Dr. Paula Tripp, Oklahoma State University teaching professor in Human Development and Family Science, recently received the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Alumni Achievement Award at the first-ever Virtual National Leadership Conference.
The award recognizes former FCCLA members who have distinguished themselves in their chosen field.
Tripp’s work as coordinator of the OSU undergraduate and graduate Family and Consumer Sciences Education program (FACSED); leadership in Oklahoma, Georgia, Illinois, California and Texas; and teaching excellence qualified her for the award.
“Dr. Tripp’s service and involvement with FCCLA on the local, state and national levels has touched countless members’ and advisers’ lives,” said Marissa Kunerth, FCCLA communications and public relations manager. “It takes an enormous amount of dedication, commitment and passion for helping FCCLA in all aspects, as Dr. Tripp has done.”
Tripp first came to OSU in 2013 as the FACSED program was opening after several years of being closed. Since then, she has helped launch an online master’s program in family and consumer sciences education, organized the OSU FCS (Family and Consumer Sciences) Education Academy for high school students to explore career opportunities and mentored OSU students in leading FCCLA events.
“My inspiration is absolutely the students I work with at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” Tripp said. “The work they will do as family and consumer sciences education professionals, either in public schools or Cooperative Extension, will positively impact others through their teaching.”
Under Tripp's leadership, this relatively new undergraduate program has achieved state and national accreditation. It has been recognized for providing innovative activities for prospective students and state-of-the-art preparation for professional careers in family and consumer sciences education. Enrollment in the program continues to grow, and 100 percent of graduates have secured jobs in the field.
“Our students spend a full semester either in a county Extension office or student teaching,” Tripp said. “Once they have a background knowledge of our discipline, they go to rural, suburban and urban schools. They also go to middle schools, high schools and tech centers.”
When advising students on choosing a major and career, Tripp, who grew up seeing the impact her mother had in their community as a home economics teacher, likes to tell part of her own story.
“One of the things that drew me to the profession is that it’s interdisciplinary,” Tripp said. “In other words, your finances impact your nutrition. Then, how does nutrition impact child development? It’s those kinds of connections that make us unique. Our OSU students learn to teach these topics and more.”
This is the ninth national FCCLA award Tripp has received. In 2017, Tripp received FCCLA’s National Distinguished Service Award, and in 2020 she was inducted into the national FCCLA Leadership Hall of Fame along with three other OSU alumni.
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