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STLCC Instructor, Student Honored in Missouri Breaking Traditions Awards Contest

April 02, 2008

Lyons and Green  
Eilene Lyons, left, associate professor in
biotechnology at Florissant Valley, and biotechnology
student Lakeisha Green.

A St. Louis Community College instructor and student are among the winners in a statewide contest designed to recognize individuals enrolled in career and technical programs considered nontraditional for their genders.

Eilene Lyons, associate professor and chair of the biotechnology program at the college’s Florissant Valley, and student Debbie Black were recognized in the Breaking Traditions Awards Contest. Sponsored by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Missouri Center for Career Education (MCCE) and the MCCE career education coordinators, the awards honor not only outstanding students who have chosen specific career and technical programs based on interests and abilities despite their gender, but also educators who support these students in achieving their educational goals.

Lyons is the recipient of a 2008 Breaking Traditions Postsecondary Educator Award.  Lyons was nominated for the award by Lakeisha Green, one of Lyons’ biotechnology students who also was a regional postsecondary student winner in the 2007 Breaking Traditions contest. In her letter of nomination, Green noted that Lyons allayed her fears about returning to school as a single mother embarking on a new career.

"Ms. Lyons encourages you to see that you are a talented person and that you matter," Green wrote. "At times, I felt I was going to fail and needed someone to talk to, and she was there. Students perceive biotechnology to be difficult, yet Eilene Lyons makes it less complicated. She creates a comfortable learning environment for nontraditional students."

This marks the second straight year that a St. Louis Community College faculty member has been chosen to receive the educator award.  STLCC-Forest Park’s Mitch Walker, chair of the automotive technology department, received the 2007 award.

Debbie Black  
Debbie Black

Black received the Missouri Postsecondary Student Award. Black is studying criminal justice and STLCC-Forest Park. Black is an honors student and member of the campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year institutions.

"I have an innate yearning to help those in need, and I feel a strong connection to young people," Black said about choosing her career. "I also have witnessed first-hand that children who 'act out' often do so because of treatment they have received from the adults in their lives. There are a lot of youth surging in and out of the criminal justice system who may have been mistreated or misunderstood. They need to encounter adults who care about them and will help them learn the discipline it takes to succeed in life. I believe I can make a difference by working in this field."

After earning her associate degree at Forest Park, Black plans to transfer to the University of Missouri-St. Louis and pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She hopes to become a deputy juvenile officer in parole and probation.