Philanthropy: The Calling in My Career

Enid, OK

Favorite Quote:
“I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I’m stepping forward with grit, anchored in grace.”
  -Julie Graham

I was raised in a modest blue-collar family and quickly learned the value of hard-work. Growing up, my siblings and I mowed yards and pulled rye to help my parents pay for our school clothes. My first real job was in a small café at the age of 14. Then when I turned 16, I began working two jobs until I graduated high school. I was disciplined enough to earn good grades, but when it came time to applying for college—I pulled away. I didn’t think that it was something that I could afford, and the thought of not working scared me.

In the years to follow, I got married, had two beautiful daughters, and was blessed with three amazing step children. Then at the age of 27, I became a widowed mother. I was raising five children, alone. Several years prior, my step children’s mother had passed away in a car accident. They became orphans. I did what any mother would do; I got legal custody of them.

For most of my adult life, I worked three and sometimes even four jobs. I had to show my children strength and that anything was possible. So, at the age of 35, I put myself through practical nursing school. While going to school I continued working multiple jobs. I worked at several nursing facilities and with partners at a local magazine. I did sales at a monument company, sales and marketing for radio stations, mentored at a girl’s rehab ranch, volunteered and tutored for AmeriCorps and Red Cross, and the list goes on. I never wanted my kids to go without. I wanted them to be able to participate in sports, cheerleading, and rodeos. It felt like all eyes were on me, and I couldn’t fail.

In 2012, I was managing a restaurant called The BBQ Joint in Ponder Creek, OK. Employees from Select Energy Services would have lunch there several times a week. One day they asked me if I had grown up in northwest Oklahoma. I told them that I had. A few days later they came back in and asked me how well I knew the roads, landowners, and commissioners. I told them that I knew the area well. The next day they brought an application in and said, “you would be great for our team. We need someone to do permitting.”

I knew nothing about the oil and gas industry, but the opportunity sounded amazing. This would be the first time in my life that I would only need one job. With my two youngest girls still in high school and living at home, I took the leap of faith. I accepted the position as a Right-of-Way Permitter for Alfalfa and Grant counties in Oklahoma.

I remember meeting the Senior Vice President of Operations during my second week working in the field. I had never worked for a company where you had any interactions with a Senior VP. He knew the names of every employee in the field. I knew he would be a great mentor, and I’ve learned a lot from him over the years—never be too busy to know your team, always encourage others, be a leader not a ruler, and never forget where you came from.

This opportunity quickly expanded to include most of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas Panhandle territories. In less than a year, I was given the opportunity to join the inside sales team in Enid, OK. A month after that, I joined the regional sales team for the MidCon Region. During the downturn in 2015, I was fortunate enough to stay with Select and added the Permian Region to my list.

Opportunities within Opportunities

That same year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The support that I witnessed from Select during that time was very humbling. My friends back home had hosted a little benefit for me. When we asked for a headcount at the event, we were told “we couldn’t keep up, we stopped counting at 350 people.” Many of those who attended were my coworkers. The MidCon team also hosted a poker run benefit for me, my coworkers donated vacation time, and both coworkers and customers donated to my GoFundMe. It all spoke volumes to my heart.

I beat cancer. I honestly believe that my positive support group, the drive for life, and willpower are why that challenge was won. I can’t imagine going through that working anywhere else. The love from my work family was immeasurable. As long as I’m alive, I’ll never stop helping others.

Select has given me the opportunity to serve the community throughout my seven and a half years with them. After all, it’s part of our culture and what we believe in. Along with the help from my team, we had the privilege of assisting with hurricane and tornado relief efforts. We have fed thousands, including first responders, National Guardsmen in Texas, and the homeless. We have held many fundraisers for fellow coworkers and local communities. We have hosted benefits for cancer patients, taking each step of many cancer journeys with them, including my own.

I’ve seen our Select team giving blood, sweat, tears, food, hugs, whatever the immediate needs are—with a personal touch that isn’t forgotten.

The Industry and Select

I once had this huge misconception about the potential of having a career in the O&G industry as a woman. In reality, I’ve seen women have the same opportunities to become strong leaders and work in corporate positions as well as field positions. The determining factor is putting in the work while remaining humble.

It’s a huge industry, yet a small community. Along with execution, if you want to succeed, you need to be trusted, respected, and be known for your ethics. Although Select is a large organization, it still has the small, close knit family feel. And that starts at the top. We are given every tool to be successful, and we must utilize them.

The personal and professional growth potential at Select is unlimited. In August of 2019, I was offered the opportunity to start an entire new service line for Select—Landowner Relations.

This is a great opportunity to work with our communities through outreach programs and local events while strengthening the partnerships that we have with our landowners, customers, and local and state departments.

I’m excited and honored to begin this new chapter and see where this journey takes me. I hope that my story gives someone else the strength and courage to never give up or feel less than. Hold your head high and have faith. You are worthy!