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Breaking Traditions Award 2008

Congratulations to Missouri's state and regional Breaking Traditions award winners!


State Secondary Male Award

Victor Gonzales
Victor Gonzalez
Secondary Male
Kirksville Area Technical Center
Child Care
Nominated by Debbie Snyder

Victor says, “I chose the Child Care Program because I have always enjoyed playing with children of all ages. However, the more I learn about children, our society and challenges families face on a daily basis, I realize a career decision to work with children and families is one of the most important decisions a person could make.

I want to help children develop basic skills so they will be successful in the world. Several of the children I have worked with are bilingual and from foreign countries. Special challenges like this are important and enjoyable to me.

As a young man in a traditional female occupation, I know because of the many single parent families with female heads of household, I am very important to the children as a male role model. My future plans include working with preschool children until I report to the US Military System this summer. After my tenure in the military service, I will pursue an education in early childhood education.”

Mrs. Snyder, his instructor, has said that "Victor has overcome the biggest challenge! He knows it is alright for a male to work in a traditionally female career. Because of his enthusiasm and love for children, the families and children accept him. Victor is a good student, well prepared, and has a very realistic perspective of how a male teacher can help a child who does not have a male role mode."


State Secondary Female Award

Jamie Cornelius
Secondary Female
Hillyard Technical Center
Agriculture Education
Nominated by David Hoy

Jamie Cornelius is a senior at Central High School in St. Joseph and attends Hillyard Technical Center. She is an Agri Science and Greenhouse Management student and plans to continue her education, becoming an Agricultural instructor. She has grown up on a farm, which she loves and also enjoys working with people; thus she’s a natural in Ad education. She says her instructors have been excellent role models for her; especially Ms Huntsman whom she sees not only as a great Ag teacher but also as a leader in agriculture at both local & state levels. She has worked as a student teacher cadet for Mr. Hoy, her other Ag instructor. This experience has allowed her to gain first hand knowledge of the responsibilities of a teacher.

Jamie’s suggestion to others considering non-traditional careers is, “Don’t concentrate on what others think you should do with your life. Selecting a career is much like selecting your clothes. You try the item on and find out if it fits right and enhances your appearance. Through FFA, I had the chance to try on Ag Education and I believe it fits me!!“ Jamie is involved in lots of other activities including FFA president, part time work at a local landscape business, and many family and farm responsibilities.

Mr Hoy says Jamie possess all three ‘D’s that he looks for in a great student. “The first ‘D’ is desire; the desire to learn new and difficult things; the second is dedication, dedication to the FFA way of life; and the third ‘D’ is determination, she has great determination and will find the answer and complete the activity or project!"


State Postsecondary Male Award

James Pelikan
Post-Secondary/Adult Male
Mineral Area College
Associate Degree Nursing
Nominated by Teri Douglas

Jim Pelikan says since childhood he’s had great compassion for those in need and he’s had a drive to make a difference. At the age of 14 he became Red Cross certified and saved an 8 year old girl who had wandered out too far. He grew up wanting to be in the healthcare profession, but felt his hard working parents couldn’t put him through the training. But situations kept presenting themselves where someone was in need of emergency intervention. After many years of being at the “wrong place” at just the right time he finally gave in to what he believes God intended for him and enrolled in the associate degree nursing program.

Jim’s nominator, Teri Douglas, says that along with Jim being a very dedicated, highly motivated, outstanding student, he’s always helping his classmates who have the utmost respect for him. He is very personable and compassionate. He served his country for 6 years in the marine corp and often says that experience highly contributed to who he is today.

Jim’s goal is to receive his Bachelors in Nursing and to work in trauma nursing. He currently is an emergency technician at two hospitals, is married to his high school sweet heart and has 5 children. He is so appreciative of all the staff in his nursing program, his father who taught him patience and work ethic along with his heavenly Father. His advice to others is if you have a passion for something “go for it”. Never mind the cookie cutter society where all students are teen-agers, all firemen are men or all nurses are women. It’s your life, go on and live it.


State Postsecondary Female Award

Deborah Black
Post-Secondary/Adult Female
St. Louis Community College-Forest Park
Criminal Justice
Nominated by Candace Niemeyer

Deborah Black is pursuing a career in Criminal Justice as a Deputy Juvenile Officer working in parole and probation. When asked why she chose this career, she has said, “ I have an innate yearning to help those in need, and I feel a strong connection to young people. I have also witnessed firsthand that children who 'act out' often do so because of treatment they have received from the adults in their lives. They need to encounter adults who care about them and will help them learn the discipline it takes to succeed in life. I believe I can make a difference by working in this field.”

Her nominator, Candace Niemeyer, says, “Deborah is an honors student and a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Hard work and conscientiousness form the core of Ms. Black's work ethic. She demonstrates compassion for juveniles and a willingness to stick with them, even when they make serious missteps. In addition, she is comfortable with nearly all people. I believe her desire to help others combined with the education she has chosen to pursue will well prepare her for a career in probation and parole. The work she has chosen seems to provide internal rewards that are based in her own life experiences.”

Deborah offers the following advice for others pursuing nontraditional careers: “GO FOR IT!! Times are changing and the distinction between jobs that are meant for men and women are slowly fading. There will be times you have to work twice as hard to prove you are capable of doing just as well as the opposite gender but don’t be discouraged. Put your best into your work, and you will be a success.”

Debbie plans to finish her Associate degree in Criminal Justice at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park and then transfer to University of Missouri-St. Louis to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

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Daphna Jones Spirit Award Winner (1 of 2)

Jeremy Smith
Post-Secondary/Adult Spirit Winner
Rolla Technical Center
Practical Nursing
Nominated by Pati Cox

Jeremy Smith chose a career in nursing because he cares about people and likes to see someone’s need and provide a solution. He’s convinced that men generally shy away from nursing out of fear of being perceived as weak and feminine. But he believes that a career in nursing does not make him weak, but really allows him to live by his convictions.

Jeremy is president of his nursing class. Pati Cox, Jeremy’s nominator, says, “Jeremy is exemplary in all areas of the practical nursing program. Initiative is Jeremy’s middle name. He looks for ways to go above and beyond what is normally expected. Jeremy is an asset to our program as an individual first and foremost and then as a male. He demonstrates sincerity, honesty, integrity, desire to learn, professionalism, ability to communicate and interact with others both personally and professionally, problem solve, laugh, shed tears, remain focused, and lead others. He is a prime example of why traditions should be broken and more men should enter the nursing profession.”

Jeremy plans on continuing his education to become a Registered Nurse. He would like to be a home health nurse where he can help people to become well again in their personal comfort zone – their home.

Jeremy returned to school after his job was eliminated due to the plant closing, He is married with two young children. His time in school has not been easy. His wife is a homemaker, so the family has very limited income, but Jeremy says that is the price they’ve chosen to pay in order to have a strong family. Some nights he can’t even afford to drive home after class, so he sleeps at his church. He says he’s content because he knows the payoff is well worth the sacrifice.


Daphna Jones Spirit Award Winner (2 of 2)

Tiffany Painter
Secondary Spirit Winner
Northland Career Center
Computer Maintenance Technology
Nominated by Marvin Schildknecht

Tiffany is a forward thinking individual who knows that her computer maintenance technology skills will provide her with a background for many different careers. She is considering forensic science and using computers to help solve crimes.

Tiffany sees herself working with her classmates as a team and helping each other. If they don’t understand a concept she explains it to them in another way so they can grasp the idea. She provides leadership and a positive attitude for the juniors so they will follow in her footsteps.

Her nominator, Mr. Schildknecht, says, “Tiffany has gained respect from her peers and me by always staying ahead in her class work and challenging other students to work hard through her verbal and nonverbal actions. She has the soft skills and technical background needed to excel in anything she sets her mind to do. She has determination and stamina to take her to the highest levels. She is just a dynamic individual.”

Tiffany’s advice to other students is, “Don’t let the fact that it is ‘not typical’ for a girl to be in a program hold you back. You just have to step out and take the chance to do something different.”

Tiffany smiles as she reflects on her life and thanks her parents for being positive role models for her. The CMT program has opened doors to a job opportunity, and she has successfully combined school and work. Tiffany has knowledge of the hardware and software and soon will take and pass the National A+ Certification exam. She sees her greatest obstacle as paying for college to acquire additional knowledge and skills to be a contributing, high skilled worker in America.

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Secondary State Educator Award Winner

Regina Gossett
Secondary Educator
Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center
Graphic Communications
Nominated by Theresa Hoch
  & Juliann Fite

Mrs. Regina Gossett was nominated by students, Theresa Hoch and Juliann Fite. Theresa and Juliann stated, “Mrs. Gossett is easy to talk to about anything, whether it’s school or life issues. She comes up with solutions and different ways of looking at problems. Mrs. Gossett will always find something positive in situations we might not be able to see. She brings her experiences to the classroom and encouragement to the nontraditional students in her class.”

Mrs. Gossett started doing graphic design while in high school and continued with it throughout college. She has been working in the industry for eleven years and has never regretted her decision. Her advice to students is to strive to be the best no matter what your career goal, to learn from your mistakes, and take any criticism given as an opportunity to reflect and learn from. Students should choose a career based upon their interests and what they are good at, not what society necessarily says is the norm.

“Mrs. Gossett serves as an excellent role model to both adult and high school students. Having to adjust to the pressures and hardships of being in a nontraditional field herself, Mrs. Gossett can better support and encourage the nontraditional students in her class. Mrs. Gossett believes that women have their place in the working world and expresses her views on this to the class by reinforcing the idea that women must take a role in providing for their families. She is a wonderful example of a nontraditional role model.


Postsecondary State Educator Award Winner

Eilene Lyons
Post-Secondary/Adult Educator
St. Louis Community College
Nominated by Lakeisha Green

Eilene Lyons is the Program Chair of the BioTechnology program St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley. As many of you may know St. Louis is fast becoming an epicenter in the area of BioTechnology Research, and the College is fortunate to have Ms. Lyons preparing its students to work in this field.

Ms. Lyons was nominated by Lakeisha Green, one of her BioTechnology students. She met Ms. Lyons shortly after becoming a dislocated worker. Lakeisha says, “Feeling timid, I let her know that I was scared about returning to school. She gave me the impression I was the most important person in her life at that moment. She set up an appointment and gave me a personal tour of the BioTech labs. She introduced me to the professors and even to students working in the lab so I could hear about their experiences in the program.”

“Ms. Lyons has proved to be an outstanding educator. She has this intelligent way of talking with you . . .and encourages you to see that you are a talented person and you matter . . . At times (during the program) I felt I was going to fail and needed someone to talk to, and she was there. . . . Students perceive BioTechnology to be difficult, yet Eilene Lyns makes it less complicated. She creates a comfortable learning environment for nontraditional students.”

“Ms. Lyons cultivates relationships with important industry people. She recruited professionals as mentors and teachers to demonstrate what a working day is like She arranged meetings for students at the companies where they now work. Because of her I have a choice of two internships at major BioTecholongy firms. And I have heard many students say that if it was not for her they would not have stayed in school.”

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State Employers Award Winner

Ron Lee
Ron Lee
Auto Zone - Monett, Missouri
Nominated by Greg Allen & Ted Dorton

Mr. Lee is Manager of Monett Auto Zone parts store. He was nominated for the Breaking Traditions Educator award by Greg Allen, the instructor for the Auto Technology program at the Southwest Area Career Center in Monett. Mr. Lee has been on the SWACC Auto Tech Advisory Committee for several years. His enthusiasm and support in Auto Tech is apparent in the hiring of nontraditional students in his business. Through Mr. Lee’s support, top students at Southwest Area Career Center have been rewarded with substantial tool kits; smaller tool kits are given to students for various achievements also.

Most of the local part stores hire one or occasionally two females to work in the back stocking shelves or delivering parts. Mr. Lee’s staff is predominately female with all of them working the counter, operating diagnostic equipment and assisting customers with installation issues. Mr. Lee is considerate of his employee’s personal needs and is flexible with his work scheduling. Students are able to take courses to continue their education, take care of health care issues and spend extra time with family members when needed. Mr. Lee provides his employees with regular training on customer relations and operation of new test equipment.

Because of Mr. Lee’s ongoing support of the Auto Technology program at the Southwest Area Career Center, it is my pleasure to award him the Breaking Traditions Educator Award.

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Regional Breaking Traditions Award Winners

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Honorable Mention Breaking Traditions Award Winners

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