“Shortly after high school there was a lady who bagged groceries at a store near where I worked,” said Cole Reece, a Practical Nursing student at Central Tech. “One day, on her way home from work, she was crossing the street and got hit by a car. Nobody could help and it seemed like it took forever for the fire department to show up; so I went out there and helped drag her out from under the car. I helped her out until the ambulance got there, and I thought ‘I could do this.’”

So, he did. Reece’s path to Central Tech hasn’t been a short one, but his start in the medical field came early when he joined the Army.

“My dad served in Vietnam and my grandfather served in World War II, so I kinda felt a sense of duty.”

Reece spent eight years in the Army as a medic and flight medic, and after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he decided to separate from the military and pursue nursing. At the time, he was living in Tennessee and one of Central Tech’s veteran’s programs pushed him to make the move to Oklahoma.

“Central Tech takes part in a military medic to nursing program. They give you more credit for your military experience, so I decided to move out here this summer.”

He started the Practical Nursing program in September and, in a class with a 12 to 15-month average completion time, graduated in only five months. Part of that fast pace is due to his solid military foundation.

“It helps a lot in the clinical aspect. We got to treat and take care of a lot of different patients, from kids all the way up to geriatric patients.”

His pace is also driven by the help he gets in and out of the classroom.

“Everybody seems really willing to help you any chance they can. Whether it’s the admin with financial aid or teachers in the class; other programs I’ve seen are more sink-or-swim,” said Reece. “You know, I’m 36. But they give me the opportunity to get this done quicker and move on and get to my ultimate goal sooner.”

Even outside the nursing aspect of his education, Reece feels like he’s being prepared for a future after Central Tech.

“The last portion of our nursing program is building a resume and dealing with job interviews. Instead of just giving me a degree and kicking me out the door, all the steps are in place to put me into a job.”

Reece already has multiple job offers. His immediate plans are to work part-time as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) while continuing his education in registered nurse (RN) school.