Self-Determination and a Passion for Helping Others Paves Success for ECU Grad
Jill Lambe, an East Central University graduate, knows the importance of believing in yourself when the odds seem stacked against you. It’s a lesson she learned while earning a bachelors of science in mathematics education as a single mom. It’s also a guiding principle she imparts to others every day as a career counselor with the Chickasaw Nation.
“I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I enrolled at ECU, but when I first became a mom, I realized a degree was necessary to support my family. My daughter turned three when I earned my diploma, now she’s fourteen."
“I attended ECU because it was an affordable, less intimidating option than other schools, and it was close to home,” Lambe said. “Then later, I found my education had really prepared me to take on new challenges. I never thought I’d teach six different math classes for grades 7-12 all at once, but I made it work.”
Lambe’s passion to help others eventually moved her down a new path, and today she works as a career counselor with the Chickasaw Nation’s ReEntry Program.
“I love my job. I help people who have hit hard times by assisting them in earning their GED, improving their interview skills and finding job opportunities,” Lambe said. “Each of these steps can stabilize a participant’s situation and turn them toward success. And I still find my mathematics degree essential in my position since passing math is a huge hurdle for those who try to get a GED.”
Lambe’s role isn’t always easy, watching others in difficult situations struggle toward their goals. But the wins, big or small, make it worth it.
“When people get promoted or hired, and I get to see the joy of their success, that is my motivator,” she said. “I worked with one individual who climbed uphill for over a year to get their license, a car and a job. There was another man over 50 who earned his GED then got a job in landscaping — seeing that hard work and accomplishment has stuck with me.”
Lambe said that some of her participants achieve one goal, gain confidence and then set their sights on new dreams like higher education.
“We always encourage higher education when it fits the goals of our participants. Recently, we were happy to add a previous participant to our team as a receptionist in the School-to-Work Program while she pursues her own degree at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.”
Throughout her career, Lambe has been grateful that having a bachelor’s degree has, and continues to, open doors for herself, her family, those she works with and the community.
“I believe that our community is better educated because of schools like ECU. My success story is only one of so many who have earned their degree and are working and thriving in Ardmore, Ada and across the state.”