Before joining the Paralegal Studies Program, Robert Harmon had completed an A.S. in Business Administration and General Management at Tulsa Community College (TCC). He rose to the challenges of active learning pedagogy. Lectures and readings were followed by practical lessons which included drafting pleadings, discovery documents, and a dispositive motion. He and his classmates also participated in simulated scheduling and pre-trial conferences and grasped how each stage of the litigation process is aimed at preparing a client’s matter for trial. When asked to reflect on his experience at T.C.C. he wrote:
"Although I had experience with other paths in higher education, the Paralegal Program at TCC was unlike any of them. I have never been a traditional book learner, but there are other ways to learn. The paralegal program introduced me to an adaptive learning method that continues to influence how I contextualize problems. The professor took the class through the process from pre-litigation, through the post-trial collection. This exercise demonstrated the real implications of concepts that, in other programs, would have remained abstract, such as the discovery process and filing deadlines. The ability to link the abstract to the real world helped me through future educational programs and into my current position as Finance Director. In the paralegal program, we gained real-world experience in the legal field and had an invaluable opportunity to discuss and debate the practice of law with other interested students."
As the coordinator and only full-time faculty member in the Program, I was Robert’s teacher for several courses. His success came as no surprise to me.
While still a paralegal student Robert interned with a local law firm for several months before taking a job with the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Cost, Restitution & Bogus Check Division. While pursuing a B.S. in Organizational Leadership from Southern Nazarene University he earned the Professional Paralegal Certification from NALS, Inc. In 2017 and 2018 Robert was twice promoted, first to the position of Deputy Director of the division, and then Finance Director for the entire agency. With ambitions to advance further his career, and to prove himself equal to the task, Robert earned a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Arkansas State University.
Success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, and Robert has done just that in earning four (4) degrees, a professional certification, a supervisory position serving his community, investing in that community with the purchase of a home, and marrying his boyfriend (now husband) Takis. As an educator in 21st century America, I am tasked with measuring what is often immeasurable, the efficacy of the Program generally as well as of specific lessons and pedagogical methods. While those efforts are at times illustrative, and at others, an exercise in so much busywork, the evidence which gives me the most satisfaction (in proportion to any small part I might have played) is that illustrated by a story like that of Robert’s success, a young person becoming a fulfilled, self-sufficient, contributing member of his community.
-Submitted by Michael Speck, Program Director, Paralegal Studies Program, Tulsa Community College