Success Stories

Shelby Benson

When Shelby Benson first enrolled in the Workforce Tulsa Youth Program, she was an unemployed, single mother, with the goal of earning a certificate within the Health Care Industry.  Shelby had already graduated high school, but lacked the funding and work readiness skills required to attend a post‐secondary training.

In order to prepare her for a career pathway and future training, Shelby’s Career Manager signed her up for a two week Work Readiness and Academic Readiness Workshop. Shelby attended these workshops each day with a motivated, positive attitude. Shelby’s strong leadership skills became apparent throughout those two weeks, as she led her peers by setting a wonderful example, and even tactfully telling them when they were being disrespectful and inattentive. Shelby’s kind nature and mature presence was well received by her fellow classmates, allowing her to earn their respect and become a leader among her peers.

After successfully completing the Academic Enrichment Workshop, Shelby was able to increase both her math and reading scores to a proficient level and successfully earn a Career Readiness Certificate. Upon completion of the Work Readiness Workshop, it was clear that Shelby was ready to be placed in a Work Experience. Shelby’s Career Manager placed her at Hillcrest Hospital for 6 weeks in order to provide Shelby with a more hands on experience in the healthcare industry prior to training. The Work Experience is meant to assist a youth in deciding if a particular industry is a good fit for them. Some find after completing the Work Experience that they would prefer to change their career interest. For Shelby, however, it only solidified her goal of becoming a healthcare worker. Shelby received wonderful evaluations from her supervisors throughout the experience. Once again, Shelby stepped into the leadership role with her fellow interns at Hillcrest, going above and beyond by offering rides to each of them to and from Hillcrest. Shelby would calmly confront some of the less developed interns when they were talking or acting inappropriately at the worksite, allowing the other interns to also grow professionally.

Based on Shelby’s track record for always displaying a positive attitude, an eagerness to learn, and a determination to be successful, her Career Manager felt confident that she was ready for CNA training. Shelby’s Career Manager signed Shelby up for a Wings Certified Nursing Assistant class that began on September 12th. Shelby received high marks throughout her training and successfully completed her course work on September 26th. Shelby took the state certification on September 28th and passed with flying colors. Shelby interviewed with Grace Hospice the very next day, and was hired on the spot as a CNA at $11.00/hour. Shelby is very excited to begin her new journey as a healthcare professional. Shelby states that this is just the beginning for her. She plans to continue on with her education and earn her Registered Nursing License. As long as Shelby maintains her hard work ethic and motivation to continuously develop and grow, there is no doubt that she will succeed in all that she sets out to do.

Jerome Celestine

Jerome first heard about the Workforce Tulsa Youth Program when representatives of the Youth Team came to Job Corps to speak about the services we have to offer. Jerome blew the Youth Team representatives away when he introduced himself and handed them his business cards for“window cleaning and general maintenance”. Jerome was currently living at the Tulsa Job Corpshousing, but was soon to phase‐out and liked the aspect of the Youth Program that would allow him totransition into adulthood. Jerome was excited about this new opportunity and scheduled an initialappointment with the Tulsa County Youth Career Manager, Jennifer Conger. At the time of enrollment,Jerome was not employed and his only source to support himself came from the few jobs he received through self‐employment. Jennifer deemed Jerome eligible for the Workforce Tulsa Youth Program due to his school dropout status at 11th grade.

Due to time of year, the Youth Program had spaces open for youth to take part in the Summer Youth Employment Program, so Jennifer deemed Jerome as a viable candidate for this opportunity.Jerome accepted this opportunity and took part in the two weeks of Career Readiness Workshops thattook place before the Summer Youth Employment Program. The Academic Enrichment Workshops allowed Jerome to not only increase his basic skills deficiency in reading, but also obtain a $50.00 bonus as incentive for this increase. Jennifer was informed by Jerome that the Work Readiness Workshops were significantly helpful in his professional development and he felt as though he walked away from these workshops with more confidence in his ability to network, interview, fill out applications, and create a customized resume.

Once Jerome successfully completed the two weeks of Career Readiness Workshops, he began his 6‐week work experience for the Summer Youth Employment Program at Perry Broadcasting. Within his first few weeks of his work experience at Perry Broadcasting, Jerome’s supervisors considered him a star pupil and began tasking him with more responsibility, even allowing him to record commercials to broadcast on air. Unfortunately, after only a few weeks of interning, Jerome began to grow concerned about his future. Perry Broadcasting was already speaking about the possibility of hiring Jerome on full‐time, which made him feel like he needed to streamline his preparation for college and/or possible military service. Jerome requested several days off so that he could take his ASVAB and enroll into college at the University of Tulsa. Upon returning to work, Jerome stated that it didn’t feel the same. Due to Jerome missing so much work, he had fallen behind while others were able to catch up, and this left him feeling less than satisfied. All of this led to Jerome walking out of his work experience and notifying Jennifer of his decision. Jennifer identified that Jerome still needed development with business etiquette and communication, so she met with Jerome and coached him on how this situation could have been handled better. She explained to him that he should have checked his ego at the door, and not worried about the status of the other interns, but rather focused on how he could make up for lost time by quickly and jumping in to help whenever he was needed.

After an intense counseling session, Jerome completely agreed with his Jennifer’s advice and was ready for another opportunity at employment. Jennifer knew Jerome had a challenge finding transportation and provided him with a 31‐day bus pass so he could attend an interview at a Bama Pie Hiring Event. Jerome utilized the skills he had received while attending the Career Readiness Workshops and aced the interview. He showed up on time, dressed to impress, resume in hand, and was offered a job on the spot. Jerome is thrilled to be a part of an organization like Bama, where he knows he will receive the opportunity to progress and develop as long as he applies himself and works hard.

Jerome also recently enrolled into law enforcement classes at Tulsa Tech. He will be working at Bama during the day as a Material Handler for $11.00 per hour, and attending law courses in the evening. Jerome stated that he wants to stay busy and constantly improve himself. Jennifer will continue to advocate for and provide assistance to Jerome as is needed, however, she is confident that he is on the right path to independence and success.

Cody Floyd

When Cody first came to the Workforce Tulsa Creek County Satellite Center in Sapulpa, he was looking to obtain his GED and get a kick‐start in the right direction. With his step mother’s help, Cody enrolled into the GED Pre Courses offered through a partnering organization, Drumright Public Schools. Cody had no knowledge of the Workforce Tulsa Youth Program until he was referred by his GED instructor to set up an initial meeting with the on‐site Workforce Tulsa Youth Career Manager, Scott Obomanu.

In his initial meeting with Scott, Cody stated his interest in obtaining employment and need for assistance with the HiSET Exam fees. At the end of this meeting, Scott deemed Cody eligible for the Workforce Tulsa Youth Program due to his school dropout status at 9th grade and no current obtainment of a GED. Cody dreamed of going to college, but felt as if his goal was unreachable with his current situation. Scott encouraged Cody and helped him build a series of steps toward his career pathway for an occupation in veterinary medicine. After Cody completed his TABE Testing for enrollment, Scott found out that Cody was excellent at math. Scott knew it wouldn’t be long before Cody could complete his HiSET Exam, so Scott began reaching out to 211 in search of partners who could support the $70.00 testing fee. 211 informed Scott that there wasn’t a partner within a 100 mile radius of the Kiefer area that could provide assistance with the funding for the HiSET Exam. Transportation from the rural area to any other partner outside of the Kiefer area was a significant barrier for Cody. Fortunately, Scott was able to provide Cody with a supportive service through the Workforce Tulsa Youth Program so Cody could take his HiSET Exam. Cody passed the exam with flying colors and was able to receive a bonus of $100.00 as incentive for his GED Certificate.

A few months after earning his GED, Cody informed Scott that he found employment at
FlyingTee as a dishwasher for $8.00 an hour at 30 hours per week. Cody told Scott that by attaining his GED, it helped him become more employable and has set him upon the right path to self‐sufficiency. With his confidence being boosted, Cody now shows a high interest in Quantum Physics, and plans to enroll in college for the upcoming winter semester. Scott will continue to provide assistance to Cody and looks forward to the successes he will achieve next.

Troyce Lewis

Troyce Lewis is a 21 year old living in North Tulsa. In
August 2012, Troyce signed up for the youth program at the age of 17. From
the start he was thrilled to become a member of the program, after noticing how
his cousin had such favorable outcomes with the assistance of training and supportive services. After a few months of being involved with the program, Troyce began participating in career club trips, workshops, and other youth activities that were available to him. The following summer he acquired his first job with the Oklahoma Eagle through the Summer Youth Employment Program. The experience he obtained was monumental and still valuable to him. His Oklahoma Eagle supervisors immediately humbled him by demonstrating the appropriate way to answer phones for a business, file documents, how to annunciate his words clearly, and even how to make coffee. At the end of the summer, Troyce had gained a plethora of confidence, knowledge and was recognized by both supervisors, family, and himself.

At the beginning of 2014 Troyce began actively pursuing his GED certificate. This
journey was unexpected, and underestimated. Originally, Troyce planned to
graduate high school from Tulsa Central in 2013. However with the new
requirement of having to pass the EOI exam(End of Instruction Tests) Troyce was
unable to pass the math exam and did not earn a high school diploma. This
experience was devastating to Troyce, but he set his mind to overcoming the situation. The transition was not easy but he was determined to earn his GED certificate to fulfill his career goal of becoming a Sports Broadcaster. In February 2016, Troyce passed each test: Math, Science, Reading, and Social Studies. Although this part of Troyce’s journey is complete, it wasn’t easily done and was at times extremely frustrating to him. He took his math test six times! Troyce states he now knows the true meaning of faith and the process of patience.

Troyce participated in 2015 Summer Youth Employment Program at Tulsa Shock. He continued to volunteer for the Shock after his work experience ended. Troyce is currently still attending GED classes so he does not fall behind in his studies. He plans to start college this fall. At this time he has an unpaid internship with the Tulsa Twisters. Troyce has also started a mentorship program called Young Visionaries. 

Troyce Lewis on Young Visionaries: "Far too often we lose young men to negativity such as gangs and the street life. Likewise, we lose the other amount of young men to sports. As Young Visionaries, we aspire to present a new team to be a part of where like minds, and people that may not be involved in sports, new fads, and/or negativity can gel, and thrive together. This mission that I’m speaking of isn’t something that I’m putting off later 5 to 10 years from now, it’s now! I assist the Tulsa Dream Center kids program. YV has been helping the kids ages from 8‐13 with their reading skills, and with their homework. The Young Visionaries are involved in shooting short films, skits, photos, videos, and also charity work. Workforce Tulsa helped inspire this move by showing me that creative outlets, and opportunities can begin to shape, and mold a young teens mind. Workforce has helped me become a better young man, and for that I’m forever grateful!"

Kelli Frusher

“I wanted to take a moment of everyone's time to share my experience with Workforce Tulsa. When I had walked in the door, I had already been unemployed for several months. I had never been laid off before and it was a scary situation to be in. I felt uncertain about what was going to happen and I felt that I wasn't actively contributing to society the longer I stayed on unemployment. On my own, I had been fruitlessly applying to companies in the hopes that I would receive an offer. I had interviewed for at least 4 companies and each time the rejection felt personal. I was stuck and didn't know where to go from there.

From the moment I walked in the door things began to change. First, the front desk was professional, knowledgeable and helped me make the first step in making connections. I attended an info session that was valuable because it walked me through all of the options and programs that Workforce had to offer. The second step was being assessed and linked with my own career adviser who worked one on one with me. We agreed that I would be a good candidate to take classes to help me brush up on my interview skills, resume building, customer service skills and much, much, more.

The classes were an invaluable tool that not only prepared me for my career search, but it also gave me back my confidence. I do believe that every day I walked out of class with a feeling that the staff of Workforce Tulsa valued me and made me feel like I was a part of their tribe. With my confidence back up I was now ready to go out into the market again. Workforce Tulsa works hard to bring the best companies and employers right to your door. I interviewed for three top notch companies right there all in one day!

I would like to say to anyone who feels stuck or needs help to put your trust in Workforce Tulsa. They invest in you and you will reap those fruits. Don't give up! Finally to sum up in one sentence how I feel about my journey with Workforce Tulsa is this: It took a village to raise me up....and guess what? I GOT THE JOB!”

Shawn Gustafson

Shawn Gustafson first came to Workforce Tulsa in response to a job posting.  With no high school diploma or GED and a felony on his record, Shawn has settled down and is trying to provide for his family.  His communication with our business services team and career advisors was always courteous and prompt.  He came in to our center and went through the enrollment process and was prescreened by the business services team.

Shawn also met with one of our career advisors, who suggested some revisions to the formatting of his resume.  He quickly made the changes and sent the updated version.  Our business services account manager then talked to the Ellsworth Construction about Shawn’s 2.5 years of heavy machine operation experience and they were very excited to meet Shawn. 

Shawn filled out an application at Ellsworth’s office and then drove to the work site to interview.  By the end of the interview, he was told, “I want you on my team!”

That same evening, Ellsworth Construction emailed our account manager to say how very impressed they were with Shawn and they believe they will benefit having him with their company.  Shawn started his new job as a Heavy machine Operator on February 1, 2016. 

Malaysia Smith

When Malaysia first came to the Workforce Center, she was struggling to find stable employment that paid enough to cover her bills.  She longed to become a nurse, but as a single mother with no high school diploma and no experience or training in the field, she did not believe her dream was feasible.  She heard about Workforce Tulsa through a friend and came to our facility to find out how we could possibly assist her in achieving her education and employment goals.

In June of 2015, Malaysia participated in our Summer Youth Employment Program.  She was set up with a work experience at Hillcrest Medical Center.  In order to begin her work experience, she first had to successfully complete and orientation, followed by a week of Work Readiness Academy, and finally 3 days of Academic Enrichment.  After arriving to Work Readiness Academy late each day and missing the final day completely, Malaysia was off to a rocky start.  Before allowing Malaysia to continue on to her work experience at Hillcrest, our Program Director wanted to first sit down with her and gauge her dedication to not just the program, but to her own success.  After meeting this meeting, Malaysia’s attitude and perspective took a 180 degree turn.  She began to take ownership of her decision making and was ready to make progress.

Malaysia was more than excited to be placed at Hillcrest Medical Center.  Having no GED or certification to work in the Health Care field, she realized this was an opportunity that would not have been afforded to her without the assistance of Workforce Tulsa’s youth program.  Throughout her work experience, she continued to grow, learn, and mature.  The now confident and optimistic girl that visits Workforce is such a stark contrast from the tough, pessimistic, and sometimes bitter young woman that first entered our office.

Malaysia’s boss at Hillcrest noted these changes as well.  She was so impressed by her growth, she encouraged Malaysia to apply for Hillcrest’s CNA program.  This Hillcrest program will not only pay for her certification, but also pay her to train and study for the certification.  This opportunity, however, was contingent upon Malaysia first earning her GED.  She successfully completed her GED exam in September and began her paid CNA training at Hillcrest on October 6th.  There is nothing standing in the way of her success.  Malaysia stated that her goal is to be a good provider and a positive role model to her son.

Malaysia was asked to share her experience at the National Association of Workforce Development Programs Youth Development Symposium workshop this past November in Chicago, IL and also participated with other youth presenters in a panel discussion.  She was also awarded a Governor's Commendation for the Youth Alumni of the Year for the Tulsa region.

Isaiah Richards

Isaiah Richards was attending the Tulsa Hope Academy when he first heard about the Workforce Tulsa Youth Program.  While working towards his high school diploma, a Workforce Tulsa Youth Advocate provided a presentation on our youth program to the staff and students.  Isaiah was very intrigued by what he heard.

Isaiah is very fond of the performing arts and is part of a traveling team that performs in multiple cities around the United States. His chosen career pathway is Journalism and Broadcasting.

Isaiah participated in our Summer Youth Employment Program in 2015.  During our week-long Work Readiness Academy, Isaiah was very engaged and asked multiple questions of our presenters.  He set the bar high for his fellow attendees.  Our Youth Team named him, along with a few of his peers, Professionally Best Dressed and Best Attitude.

Isaiah received his high school diploma from Tulsa Hope Academy on May 5, 2015. In June of 2015, Workforce Tulsa prepared Isaiah with a work experience/internship at Perry Publishing & Broadcasting Company (KJMM). Isaiah was punctual and displayed integrity throughout work experience with KJMM.

While Isaiah worked with Perry Broadcasting for his summer work experience, he received information regarding his career field and gathered a wealth of knowledge from his internship. Isaiah’s work ethic was amazing. Isaiah did so well, not only was Isaiah’s summer work experience extended two weeks, but he was then hired on full‐time.

Celeste Fritz

Celeste Fritz initially enrolled in the program through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) summer youth employment program in 2010.  After successfully completing her work experience in November 2010, she was then enrolled as a Year Round WIA youth participant.  Celeste came into the youth program a young mother without a GED or the training needed to find a job to support herself and her children. 

At a very early age, Celeste learned to take care of herself out of necessity.  She has been diligent and consistent in her engagement to the program since enrolling. Celeste has attended GED classes since her enrollment and on November 17, 2013 earned her diploma.  She enrolled in Tulsa Community College where she has been working on her general education requirements. 

Celeste has recently become an independent distributor for Advocare.  Advocare is a healthcare company that promotes healthy lives through nutritional supplements, energy drinks, protein bars and herbal products for a healthier life style.  Celeste is excited to be attending college and to be her own boss.  


Christopher Stratton

Christopher Stratton is an individual with multiple disabilities, which to him, seemed to be a significant barrier to employment for him. After sharing with the Cleveland County Librarian the difficulties he was having in finding employment she suggested the WIA program as a resource. Feeling discouraged and defeated, Stratton contacted the Pawhuska office to learn more about the youth program. He has been an active participant since 2010.

As a participant of the WIA Youth Program he has taken part in career club trips, workshops, and the summer youth program to help him with improving his job readiness skills.

Christopher Stratton has graduated from high school and entered post-secondary education during his enrollment. He has overcome the sense of discouragement that he first felt in seeking employment, and is now working toward his career goal. Stratton is currently enrolled in Oklahoma State University’s Mathematical Statistics Program with the intent of becoming a Professor of Statistics. He is a junior and expects to graduate in May of 2015.

Morris Jones

Morris Jones first got involved in a gang at a young age.  Driven to help his mother support the family, he decided this was a way to get money to meet his family’s needs.  Jones says, “I was raised in a household with eight siblings and I saw the struggle my mother went through raising eight kids on her own.  I decided to take matters into my own hands and started selling drugs to help mom around the house, not knowing the outcome would be detrimental.  I lived that lifestyle for years and it helped to relieve the burden because I provided my own clothes and helped my brother to get through school.”

Being a gang member was his way of life until he ended up in federal prison on a weapons charge.  Serving time gave him a chance to reevaluate his life.  His desire to be able to raise his children and have a presence in his family that drove him to change his life.  When he was released from prison he went to Tulsa Reentry One Stop for assistance.

Tulsa Reentry One Stop offers assistance to individuals within six months of being released from prison with reentering society. The services include wraparound services to address their basic, life and employment needs to reduce recidivism.  Dynamic Educational Systems, Inc. provides these Workforce Investment Act services through a partnership with the Community Service Council of Tulsa. 

Nancy Dawson

Nancy Dawson is a former participant of the WIA Adult program in Tulsa, OK. She was laid off from her job in April 2011 and began speaking with the Workforce Investment Act staff. They told her about the program and the services that can be provided.

Dawson enrolled in the Adult program in August 2011. Through the program, she enrolled in Tri-County Technology Center and began working toward an accounting certificate. While enrolled, she received assistance with tuition and mileage reimbursement through the WIA program. With the support of her family and career manager, Dawson was able to stay actively involved in the program. She completed the certificate program in December 2012. 

Dawson is now employed full-time with Dynamic Education Systems, Inc., where she works as an intake specialist. The success does not stop there, as she is currently on track to complete her associate’s degree in Office Information Systems Technology from Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in December 2013, no small feat for a working wife and mother of two small children. 

Dawson considers herself a success because she is the only person in her family to obtain postsecondary education. She feels that, with her education, she can now assist in providing for her family.

Sue Pocza

Sue Pocza contacted our Sapulpa Workforce Office after being laid off.  She wasn't sure what she wanted to do, but after meeting with staff, she decided she was interested in training in a new career.  The staff at Workforce connected her to Tulsa Community College, and she began taking prerequisites for the Nursing program. She got financial aid via Tulsa Community College and also received financial assistance from Workforce and was accepted into the Nursing program in 2011.

Sue received assistance from her Career Coach from that time on. She graduated with a 3.68 grade point average, passed the Nursing exam and is now a licensed RN. She's currently employed full-time at St. John's Hopsital, earning more than $24/hour and part-time at Inverness Village, earning more than $20/hour. 

Nathaniel Monk

Nathaniel Monk’s first encounter with the workforce system was in February 2013, when he attended an information session about the Dislocated Worker program.

At that time, Mr. Monk had recently been laid off from his previous employer. When he began looking for unemployment assistance, his unemployment representative told him about the dislocated worker services provided by Workforce Tulsa.

After attending the information session, Mr. Monk enrolled in the Dislocated Worker program and began attending Four M Welding School to obtain a welding certificate. This was not easy for him, as he had a few stumbling blocks. For example, he was given rental assistance which allowed him to continue his education and seek employment.  Mr. Monk says he was able to overcome these barriers with the support of his career manager.

Mr. Monk graduated with a welding certificate in May 2013. He is currently employed with Trinity Industries where he builds wind towers, reads blueprints, and performs layouts.