An Honor to Break Tradition

An Honor to Break Tradition

‎Each year the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education recognizes students who have chosen to study specific programs which are based on the student’s interests and abilities, rather than traditional gender roles, with the aptly named, “Breaking Traditions Award”. Nominees for the award contribute by creating more awareness and support of all non-traditional students and programs.

Non-traditional training and employment is defined by occupations and careers where individuals from one gender comprise less than 25 percent of the individuals employed in a particular field.

Tyra Hunt, an adult student in Tulsa Tech’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program, has been nominated for one of this year’s awards. Her initial decision to follow this career path wasn’t determined by her gender, however, it was built on her desire to achieve her goals, honor a loved one, and follow her dreams.

“I had been working in fast-food for several years,” Hunt explained. “Suddenly one day, I lost my younger brother in an accident, he was only 19, and it just made me realize how valuable time is, so I set a goal in order to challenge myself, and honor him in the process of making a better life for myself, and my family.”

Jimmy Hawley, one of Tulsa Tech’s HVAC instructors, thinks there are plenty of opportunities in the industry for students with drive and integrity; students just like Tyra.

“Tyra is a leader in this class and is well respected by the other students,” Hawley said. “She not only has a plan to get the job she wants, she’s already had at least one job offer.”

This proud native of Big Branch, North Carolina (pop. 2,324), credits her instructor with providing knowledge, patience, and most of all, a sense of confidence.

“Mr. Hawley is just so good, each time he’s saying, ‘now you can do this’,” Hunt said. “He takes his time, he’s always very patient, and he keeps me headed in the right direction.”

Tyra admits that returning to school was a little difficult at first, and although she feels being nominated for this year’s award is very considerate, she spends more time thinking about her professional goals, rather than her gender.

“It’s a privilege to be nominated for this award,” Hunt said. “My first step is to finish my training. Eventually my goal is to work with larger, industrial applications, including boilers, and chillers. I’d also like to continue my education to work toward my associate degree.”

Although this proud Tar Heel may never be taller than an eastern Carolina pine, she recommends that every student, regardless of their age or gender, follow their dreams, and the path best suited to their individual abilities. After all, time waits for no man or woman.

“I certainly hope more students will investigate non-traditional careers in an effort to have a better life,” Hunt said. “Now is the time, not tomorrow, but right now, to take advantage of whatever training they need to fulfill their dream.”

If you’re currently looking for exciting classes for high school and adult students, quality business and industry training, or dreaming of a new career, Tulsa Tech invites you to visit today. For more information, please call 918-828-5200 or visit us online at

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