In the case of student Danielle Patterson, the M-Power program really lived up to its name.
Patterson started in the workforce training program to help her better improve her life skills and job skills.
“This was the first step in becoming more independent. It really opened my eyes about how community can make an impact,” she said. “Everybody here picks you up. It’s almost like a close-knit group of friends.”
Patterson gained the confidence to go back to college so she enrolled in OSU Institute of Technology’s business program in the School of Arts & Sciences.
“I remember my first day I came here and I enrolled and got my books,” she said. “I was so nervous that first day, I thought I would be the only adult in there. I was so happy to see students who were like me.”
Patterson had taken college courses before at Connors State College, but after nearly eight years, she said going back into a college classroom was a bit of a culture shock.
“I had a really good group of friends and co-workers. It was a smooth transition,” she said.
Patterson started classes in January while also a student in the M-Power program.
Judy Black, job developer and M-Power instructor, said the program focuses on career and life skills training and is part of OSUIT’s Economic Development & Training Center. It’s housed in the Workforce Oklahoma building on campus.
“Anything they need to be successful in life, we try to provide,”Black said. “Some are getting their GED, some come for short-term training, but Danielle is the first student to graduate college while also enrolled in M-Power.”
Because of previous credits she earned while attending Connors, Patterson was able to graduate with an Associate in Science in Business in August. She was also a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, graduated summa cum laude and was named the Outstanding Business Student in her graduating class.
“She’s very, very humble, but she was so excited. We had a major celebration for her and a potluck dinner here at the M-Power office,” Black said.
And Patterson said she almost didn’t even attend graduation.
“At first I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to walk. Everyone told me I should, I deserved to,” she said, and the closer graduation came, the more it meant to her to attend. “I’m accomplishing something I’ve wanted for so long. I get to walk across that stage.”
Patterson has now enrolled at Northeastern State University and will start taking online courses in October and pursue bachelor degrees in health care administration and business administration.
She hopes to eventually earn a master’s degree and work for a nonprofit hospital.
“My nephew got hurt really badly, and the Shriner’s Hospital helped him and his family,” she said, and she wants to do the same for others. “I want to work in the healthcare field, but I can’t handle the blood, so this is what I can do to help.”
Black said Patterson has become a role model for others in the M-Power program, including herself.
“Watching her succeed is really motivating to the other students. It motivates us, the instructors too,” she said. “We see her success, and we see how it affects the other students.”