Success Stories

The Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Career-Technical Education selected 15 awardees – one for each career field – from among more than 100 nominations for the Class of 2014 success stories. Honorees, nominated by their teachers, receive a certificate and the distinction of being featured in various state-level messaging/presentations over the next year.

Agriculture and Environmental Systems: Class of 2014 Success Story
Northeastern Ohio student wants to share passion of learning with students

Jessica Miller

For Jessica Miller, career tech led her down a path she did not even know existed.
“Career tech made me realize I could succeed in school and that I can go to advanced levels of education and be prosperous,” said Jessica.

Still amazed by the hands-on training and real-world application she experienced through Lorain County Joint Vocational School’s landscape and greenhouse management, Jessica believes that so many more students could benefit from the same access to opportunities. So much so, she wants to educate and share her passion for learning with her own students when she becomes a horticultural teacher.

Jessica credits career tech with keeping her on the right path. Upon joining the National FFA Organization, she gained confidence in public speaking, even serving as the vice president while her grades improved drastically.

Her passion for learning and excelling is evident in the number of awards she has received, including State Nursery and Landscape finalist, Ohio Nursery and Landscape Scholarship recipient and National Technical Honor Society. In May, she attained a top-level recognition—her State FFA Degree at the Ohio FFA Convention in Columbus.

Already, Jessica is well on her way to her goal of becoming a teacher. As a career-tech student, she has earned college credit that will transfer with her when she graduates from high school this spring. In the fall, she plans to attend The Ohio State University – ATI to major in horticulture and pre-agricultural education. She believes that attaining her degree and becoming a teacher will allow her to remain in the classroom long after she graduates.”

Arts and Communication: Class of 2014 Success Story
Teenage playwright, stage manager aims for Broadway

Natalie Love

Seven-year-old Natalie Love’s infatuation with Barney & Friends had her singing the purple dinosaur’s songs to ad nauseam, prompting her parents to expose her to a recreation center children’s theatre. She subsequently sang and danced her way into lead and supporting roles through middle school.

As a Reynoldsburg High School sophomore, Natalie realized her passion for mathematics, the “left brained” logical side, was missing a balance with the “right brained” creative side. She auditioned successfully into the Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools’ performing arts program at Reynoldsburg. While she performed major roles in such productions as Trifles and Hairspray during her junior and senior years, it was through career-tech classes and experience in script writing, entrepreneurship and technical theatre that she discovered her true calling. As she looks to the future, Natalie sees herself as a theatrical stage manager or playwright on Broadway or in regional theatres across the country.

“Performing arts is an outlet for the world to enjoy something that isn’t cold and calculated,” she said. “If you are too left brain, you fall asleep.”

In the spring of 2014, the Reynoldsburg High School graduating senior had four plays published, one play produced, directed a short play, worked an internship at a professional theatre and stage managed three major productions—all while attaining a 4.3-GPA valedictorian and honor’s diploma status. A career-tech performing arts program goes deeper and with more professional relevance and exposure than a high school play, according to Natalie, who has a $22,000 annual scholarship to Otterbein University.

“The behind-the-scenes part of performing arts allows for more problem-solving and leadership building,” Natalie, age 17, said. “These types of jobs also tend to be secure to build a career. I love math and the business side of performance art. I find the prospect of travel, which will likely be necessary, exciting.”

Business and Administrative Services: Class of 2014 Success Story
Minford student strives to become pharmaceutical representative

BusinssSuccess2014Hayley Kline
Haley Kline

Since enrolling in the medical office management program at Scioto County Career Technical Center her junior year, Hayley Kline has excelled by taking pride and initiative in her work, maintaining a 3.6 GPA.

To compliment her coursework, Hayley has taken advantage of opportunities through her career-tech organization—Business Professionals of America. In her junior and senior years, she was elected as the historian of the Scioto County Career Technical Center local Business Professionals of America chapter. She also advanced to the state competitive events her junior year in medical office procedures and placed in the top ten. Just as successful in her senior year, Hayley advanced to the state competition and placed in the top 10 in advanced office procedures at the National Business Professionals of America competition in Indianapolis in April, earning her national recognition.

Hayley also participated in honor activities such as Minford High School National Honor Society, Scioto County Career Technical Center Student Council, prom committee and as a three-year Scholarship Banquet attendee.

A leader in the classroom, Hayley will graduate this spring with 18 transferable college credits. In addition to career tech, she is enrolled in the Scioto County Career Technical Center senior-to-sophomore program and is participating in advanced placement by working at a local physician’s office.

When Hayley looks ahead, she is determined to continue her education at Shawnee State University this fall. Her goal is to get a bachelor’s degree in business so that she can combine the technical skills she’s learned in career tech and her work experience with the business knowledge necessary to one day become a pharmaceutical representative. And if that’s not enough, she also plans to minor in a science field while working full-time.

According to Hayley, “Attending the Scioto County Career Technical Center has been a life-changing experience!”

Construction Technologies: Class of 2014 Success Story
Ambitious Hebron teen takes college classes in high school to become an electrician

Monica Betts

To say that Monica Betts is ambitious is an understatement. Enrolled at C-TEC of Licking County in the electrical trades program, Monica is blazing a trail to her future. She is already working for her “future” employer – Roberts Service Group – where she plans to work full-time as an electrician.
To get to her end goal, Monica has a career plan that compliments her go-getter personality. She takes classes at her local college to add to the more than 10 college credits she’s already pocketed while a student at C-TEC and Lakewood High School. Maintaining a 4.0 GPA, sporting perfect attendance and ranking third in her class, Monica is definitely a leader among her peers. She is on the student leadership team where she helps new students learn the ropes of career tech, serves on the student council and is a member of the National Technical Honor Society.

According to her instructor, Greg King, “Monica’s work is exceptional and her effort is more than what I have ever seen. She always completes her work before it’s due, even with taking such high level courses, so I have no doubt that she’ll achieve all of her goals.”

Monica plans to continue working with Roberts Service Group while advancing through her five-year apprenticeship and simultaneously earning her associate degree in Applied Electrical Technologies at Columbus State Community College. She won’t stop there. After that, Monica will attend The Ohio State University to pursue a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering to become a project manager in the electrical field.

“Once I set a goal, I give it my all,” says Monica. “I have been blessed with many people in my life who have helped and inspired me to achieve all of my goals so far, and there are sure to be plenty more. It’s one of my biggest goals in life to help and inspire, just as others have done for me, because I feel that is truly the most important thing anyone can do.”

Education and Training: Class of 2014 Success Story
Central Ohio student uses personal experience to inspire change in her community

Alexis Quinn

Alexis Quinn has vowed to break the cycle of poverty not just for herself, but for others in her community. Tired of the violence and drugs, Alexis started a non-profit organization, Greater Linden Youth Planting Pride, designed to clean up her neighborhood and build community pride by educating children and parents about trash clean-up and flower planting along Cleveland Avenue in Columbus.

She’s doing this all while being a student at the Columbus Downtown High School.
“I grew up in a broken community and saw the struggles that my family, as well as others go through,” said Alexis. “My career-tech program, early childhood education, has taught me the importance of education and has helped me tremendously in reaching my goals.”

As both a junior and senior, Alexis has served as her Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter president, as well as a Region 7 officer, FCCLA Leadership Academy participant and has competed in STAR events. This past November, she presented a motivational speech to over 100 teens about finding their passion and turning it into community service, and was presented an award from the Greater Linden Development Corporation for her community service.

After high school, Alexis plans to pursue a degree in social work at Otterbein University with a minor in education. She’s earned several college credits while in high school that will give her a head start on her college degree.

“With my degree, I’ll be able to continue to help children as well as my community,” said Alexis. “I have many goals for my future.”

“Alexis is very passionate about learning and changing her community,” according to her instructor, Rebecca McGrath-Hinkle. “She is an inspiration to others.”

Engineering and Science Technologies: Class of 2014 Success Story
Dayton teen accumulates countless honors on her way to becoming an engineer and lawyer

Kadijah Taylor

“Diligent, inventive, resourceful and conscientious” are just a few words Thurgood Marshall High School (Dayton) Instructor, John Ciprian, uses to describe his model student, Kadijah Taylor, a senior in his Project Lead The Way engineering program.

As early as her freshman year, it was clear that Kadijah was a leader through her quality of work and the way she set the pace for the rest of the class. She capitalized on her leadership position further by completing additional, more challenging projects beyond the standard curriculum. Her hard work paid off her junior year with her exemplary solid-model machine assembly animation and presentation in the regional modeling and simulation contest. She garnered so much praise from a panel of industry judges that it prompted an invitation for her to attend the International Modeling and Simulation Conference in Orlando to study “serious games” developed for military, security, industry, healthcare and other applications.

She has been president of the Math and Science Club her junior and senior years; performed vital roles on FIRST Robotics Teams her junior and senior years, with the current team named a FIRST Ohio Finalist for the 2013 season; earned Superior at the District Science Fair for all four years in high school; and placed first in division at the District Science Fair and in Materials Manufacturing (Air Force Research Labs). She also has earned many awards, including the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Award, Public Health Service Award, 29th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Contest Award, Thurgood Marshall Superintendent’s Scholar Award and Excellence in Leadership Award. Kadijah holds a membership in the local chapter for the National Society of Black Engineers.

Already enrolled for the fall in the electrical engineering program at Wright State University, Kadijah plans to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering and then attain a law degree to become a patent attorney.

According to Kadijah, “My engineering courses in career tech gave me the background knowledge in so many different areas of engineering and technical work that will help me to pursue my ultimate goals.”

Finance: Class of 2014 Success Story
Teen aspires to take accounting education home to help family in Africa

Mouniratou Nikiema

Just under 500 CFA Francs equal $1 in American currency. The calculation is something that Mouniratou Nikiema, a native of Burkina Faso, could not imagine she would need to know in 2009 when she was selling cucumbers along a dusty road in her small, land-locked African country. She arrived with her family of six in the central Ohio area the next year.

Understanding the U.S. dollar was the first of many skills acquired by “Mo,” as she is known at Eastland Career Center in Groveport. She learned English, pre-calculus and multiple skills related to finance, business and accounting. Her activities include the National Honor Society, Business Professionals of America, International Club, Student Advisory Council, YWCA Bright Future program and service with a Reynoldsburg non-profit that provides clothing to economically disadvantaged residents. She works part-time at Sears. In May 2014, her state-winning Business Professionals of America financial analyst team captured first in the nation.

Career-tech courses accumulate to 23 possible college credit transfer hours. This fall, Mo plans to major in accounting at The Ohio State University, where she has a full, four-year scholarship.
The teenager from the world’s third poorest country credits her cultural work ethic and Ohio career-technical education for her success. Life was not easy in Burkina Faso. It was not easy here with the biggest obstacle learning to read, write and speak English. Now, she is fluent in French, Mossi and English.

“Every day for two years, Mo meets me at the door of our financial services lab—the first to arrive,” said Jane Briggs, Eastland instructor. “It is through that hard work, dedication and sheer perseverance that she has balanced college prep academics, an active school life and a part-time job—all while keeping a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.”

Mo has not taken her education for granted and has not forgotten her roots and the lives of her family and friends back home. She is especially concerned about the elderly who must do hard labor to survive and in spite of physical pain.

“Once I get my CPA, I will go back to help them,” she said.

Health Science: Class of 2014 Success Story
Class valedictorian, dental assistant heads for career as athletic trainer

Stephanie Winn

As a sophomore and junior, David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center student Stephanie Winn thought she would be a dental assistant. Then it hit her—on the knee, that is.

“While playing softball, I got injured,” she said. “As the athletic trainer was taking care of me, I decided to go another direction to combine my love of sports with a career.”

Stephanie’s sophomore-through-senior years in the dental arts program, including credentials as a radiographer and certified dental assistant, are a plus to becoming an athletic trainer.

“Dental health impacts the whole body,” the Baldwin-Wallace College-bound teen said. “People who don’t take care of their teeth are more likely to have strokes, heart attacks and other problems.”

Other pluses are Stephanie’s 4.05 grade-point average, her selection as class valedictorian, her election as president of the National Honor Society, her internship at a dental office and her activity in softball and swimming. She chose Baldwin-Wallace for various reasons, including a $15,000-a-year scholarship and a work-study program. In May, with other awards still coming in, she had more than $150,000 in total scholarship funds from eight other colleges – The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky, Miami University, Xavier University, Purdue University, Howard University, the University of Michigan and the University of Cincinnati – wanting her on their campuses.

“The career center reinforced that I should be in the health care profession,” Stephanie said. “From my freshman year when I was checking out all the career programs, I knew it was the right choice.”

Hospitality and Tourism Career Field: Class of 2014 Success Story
Hilliard teen edges closer to career as chef and restaurant CEO

HospitalityCulinarySean Morrill
Sean Morrill

When Sean Morrill was a sophomore, he participated in the marching band and had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average at Hilliard Davidson High School. He was a teen intern in the Serving Our Neighbors ministries program. His high academic marks and activity would indicate that nothing was missing.

But it was.

Sean didn’t know what he might do after high school graduation.

The Tolles Career and Technical Center culinary arts program supplied the missing piece. As a student in the two-year program, Sean inched closer to his dream of being a chef. ProStart and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organizations provided further opportunities to help Sean realize his goal. With a “gold” first-place state FCCLA award in entrepreneurship, he competes nationally in July. Scholarships totaling $10,000 come from ProStart, Ohio Restaurant Association, Kiwanis and the Culinary Institute of America, where Sean will be enrolled on the New York campus by summer’s end.

Between high school and college, Sean is working at Heritage Golf Club, doing prep work in the kitchen. His current passion is preparing Mediterranean cuisine and demonstrating that American cuisine is “more than hamburgers and fries.” His favorite food to eat is Asian.

In five years, he expects to open up his own restaurant. His location of choice would be Columbus or Washington, D.C.

“Sean’s experience with career and technical education has far exceeded what can be taught in a textbook,” said FCCLA Advisor Kelly Marquis.

Human Services/Cosmetology Career Field: Class of 2014 Success Story
Cosmetology unleashes artistic side of Williamsburg teen

Alexandra Nissell

Interests and youth experiences could have taken Alexandra Nissell into careers involving horses, children, individuals with disabilities or water recreation. Instead, she chose cosmetology.

Alex, as she prefers to be called, believes that the training and environment at Grant Career Center in Bethel have not only been what she needed over the past two years, but also prepared her for where she wants to be.

“My whole family is artistic,” she said. “This is my piece of that. Plus, Grant is more like a home than a school. I learned a lot in classes, but also I become motivated to take hold of my own life.”

Instructor Janelle Baudendistel describes Alex with such words as “dedication, strength, joy, sweetness and outstanding.” The Bethel-Tate High School student enrolled at Grant the week after her mother was killed in a horse-riding accident, but “never once used life’s unfairness as an excuse,” the teacher said, adding, “Her character is impeccable, and her fortitude is amazing.”

In addition to career center activity with SkillsUSA and the National Technical Honor Society, Alex spent her junior and senior years as a life guard/swim instructor for children ages 3-6, on the dance team at Bethel-Tate, showing her horse in English riding events and as a volunteer with Cherry Ridge Farms’ Ohio Therapeutic Horsemanship, working with youth who have multiple handicaps.

Alex graduates with a 3.74 grade-point average and with her cosmetology license that will enable her to go from being a 15-hour-a-week receptionist to a stylist at Great Clips Salon. At some point, she will get her manager’s license to move up to administrative positions in the cosmetology industry.

“In addition to the artistry side of salons, it is important to understand anatomy, conditions of hair, sanitation and chemistry,” Alex, of Williamsburg, said. “I like the depth of that as well as the ability to do something different every day and to talk to all types of people.”

Information Technology: Class of 2014 Success Story
German exchange student has sights on multi-national company

Duc Vu

In the final month of his American high school senior year, information technology entrepreneur Duc Vu is juggling work for clients, a trip to the national Business Professionals of America conference, applications for scholarships and a decision on which college to attend in the fall.

These activities and possibilities are largely attributed to his last two years at Delaware Area Career Center—something the teen who straddles three cultures does not take for granted. Born in Schleswig, Germany, to parents who emigrated there from Vietnam, Duc finished German high school early with a plan to come to America and do another two years in career-technical education.

“Germany doesn’t offer career tech for younger students the way it is done here,” Duc said. “Because of that, the German market for people with IT skills is better than in the United States.”

As a member of the Class of 2014 at Genoa Christian Academy and the career center’s digital design program, Duc’s accolades since coming to Ohio at age 15 include these: student ambassador, National Technical Honor Society, local president and Web design awardee of Business Professionals of America, freelance Web designer and social media consultant. His certifications include Adobe Dreamweaver. His clients include a dentist and heating and cooling company in Ohio and a parking garage CEO in Germany. He charges around $700 to design and launch a five-to-eight-page website.

In May of 2014, Duc, with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, was leaning toward attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After that, he planned to pursue an MBA at Harvard University and a PhD at Stanford University.

“I see myself working for a multi-national, technology-based company,” Duc said. “I miss my family in Germany, but I have a host family and friends here. They are all supportive of my future in technology.”

Law and Public Safety: Class of 2014 Success Story
Groveport teen focuses on combined career in military, politics, law

Andrew Elliott

Andrew Elliott, 2014 graduate of Groveport Madison High School and the criminal justice program at Eastland Career Center, snagged two resume-building internships in the past year – the first during the summer of 2013 with Lori Tyack, Franklin County Municipal Clerk of Court; and the second during the summer of 2014 with Ohio Representative Michael Stinziano (D-18). Ohio career-technical education afforded him the personal growth and networking opportunities to make these happen.

“A couple years earlier, that would not have been me,” Andrew remarked. “I had good role models with parents who served in the Navy, but I was introverted, overweight, bullied and confused about the future.”

Andrew has a 3.76 grade-point average. He is 60 pounds lighter, thanks to the support of a career center classmate studying exercise science. Already in The Ohio State University Reserve Officer Training Corps program, he has a four-year scholarship with an eye on combining careers in the military, politics and law. In seven years, he plans to be a JAG (Judge Advocate General) officer, which requires completing law school.

“Andrew continually prepares himself both mentally and physically,” said Eastland’s Criminal Justice Instructor Eric Wallace. “He gives 110 percent in everything he does.”

Among Andrew’s recent accomplishments are service in the Rickenbacker International Airport Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and as CAP Cadet Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of administration, emergency services, safety and recruitment retention; membership in the National Honor Society; and SkillsUSA Ohio South Central Region vice president. He also has discovered a special passion for international relations. A senior-year research paper topic is on intelligence related to the 9-11 American terrorist attack. Andrew watches closely and with frustration the situation with Russia and the Ukraine.

“I wish I could be part of the solution to get resolution in the Crimea,” he said. “It’s hard to sit back and watch the devastation for the people and the economy. Ultimately, I want to serve the country as much as I can and, hopefully, be somebody’s role model someday.”

Manufacturing Technologies: Class of 2014 Success Story
Learning through projects kept high school exciting for Lakewood area teen

Kyle Kasper

In his junior year at West-Shore Career Tech/Lakewood High School, Kyle Kasper was on a team that created a boot, which generated heat through kinetic energy. In his senior year, his team created a computer security system using Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID); it caused a computer to lock when the user walks away. The projects were judged in a competition connected to Hyland Software. In both cases, Kyle’s teams won.

These two examples of project-based learning point to the difference between high school career-tech education and traditional learning. Two other examples for Kyle, who is enrolled in the electronic engineering program, are hands-on learning related to entrepreneurship and his ability to accumulate 10 technical credits toward college. When starting classes at The Ohio State University this fall, Kyle will have three credits in direct current circuitry, four credits in digital circuitry and three credits in programmable logic circuitry.

“Career-technical education takes you that extra step toward what you really want to do after high school,” said Kyle, who is finishing high school with a 3.5 grade-point average. “It unlocks your passion and pushes you further toward your goals.”

In addition to the knowledge and skills propelling Kyle to a career in computer or electrical engineering, he was nudged into leadership within his career-tech program. He serves on the student council and as president of his program. This still allowed him to continue volunteer fundraising activity with St. Mark’s Catholic Church and to work part-time at Marc’s Grocery.

Kyle plans to stay in school until he has his doctorate degree, so he is not sure if he will end up working for a company or working on his own. What he knows is that he is prepared for either. And he knows that the style of learning in career tech made high school more exciting.

Marketing: Class of 2014 Success Story
Home-schooled student finds added focus in career center marketing program

Hannah Westfall

Hannah Westfall expected some huge adjustments when, at the end of 10th grade, she decided to leave the home-school environment she had known her entire life to attend Miami Valley Career Technology Center. Surprisingly, the opposite occurred. With the help of Instructor Roberta Phillips, the Marketing and Media program was adapted to her.

Three examples follow.
• A strong Christian, Hannah was concerned that her activity at Plainview Open Bible Church (Brookville) would be curtailed. Instead, it was intensified. In her first year, she helped with creating videos and other communications there. During the second half of her senior year, she did an internship at the church.

• Hannah’s academic standing as a home-schooled student was high. Hannah suspected that could dip. She has a 4.0 grade-point average. She is a member of the National Technical Honor Society. Through dual enrollment, she has 16 college credits that transfer to Sinclair Community College, where she will be enrolled full time in the fall. She plans to continue in the Wright State University marketing and management program.

• She feared her shyness would be a barrier at the new school. Instead, her teacher and students coached and encouraged her to stretch and grow. Within a month of her junior year, she was heavily engaged in Business Professionals of America and spoke in front of 900 people as part of a regional officer team. She has since given nearly two dozen presentations. She is a Business Professionals of America Ambassador Torch Award recipient and school ambassador.

“I thought I would have to make changes about myself to fit in,” Hannah, of New Lebanon, said. “Instead, the program here allows me to be who I am. We are like one big family.”

While Hannah’s current goal is to have her own marketing consulting business, she believes that what she learned in two years at Miami Valley could be helpful in photography and teaching careers. Her excitement about the career center learning style also rubbed off on her younger brother, who is a junior in the same program.

“I’ve become a better and stronger person here,” she said. “I am open to networking with different types of people, and I take the bull by the horns.”

Transportation Systems: Class of 2014 Success Story
Laurel Oaks teen gears up for a lifetime career with John Deere

Robert Fisher

Robert Fisher grew up surrounded by John Deere green. Equipment from one of the world’s largest manufacturers of agricultural machinery was part of the scenery on the family’s 200-acre farm. In between helping to cultivate soybeans, repairing tractors and cleaning up debris, he dreamed of working for John Deere.

The New Vienna teen is realizing that goal. Just months from graduating from Fairfield Local Highland County High School and the Great Oaks/Laurel Oaks industrial diesel mechanics program, he was accepted into the John Deere Power Up Program – an opportunity that combines dealer technician job training and college.

“The career center program helped me plot the necessary stages of my career and to learn more about the engine aspect of becoming an agricultural mechanic,” he said. “I have always liked applying a hypothesis – solving a puzzle. This work taps into that.”

With the help of Instructor Gary Bronson, Robert set about building his resume by earning four Automotive Service Excellence certifications (diesel engines, brakes, steering/suspension, electrical/electronic systems) in his junior year. In his senior year, he did a job placement and then employment for John Deere while being accepted into the Power Up program – all the while keeping a 3.6 grade-point average, playing basketball and golf, having perfect school attendance and engaging in activities of SkillsUSA and the National Technical Honor Society.

The next steps are attending Owens Community College, where Robert has 18 credits already transferred. Owens collaborates with John Deere for a TECH program that involves accelerating learning in eight-week sessions with academics, followed by eight-week training sessions. Robert is one of 14 Ohio students accepted into the program for this fall.

Within two years, Robert plans to have his associate’s degree, be working on the family farm and with JD Equipment in Wilmington.


For more information about the Class of 2014 success stories, contact Pat Huston at

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