A Word From The CEO

By LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2008  2:08 AM
Last Modified: 9/19/2008  2:45 AM

5 questions with Teresa Knox

1. Please give a brief synopsis on each of the colleges you have helped found.

Community Care College is a licensed and accredited career college with recognitions that include the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools, Commission on Education for Allied Health Education, U.S. Department of Education and Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Diploma and degree programs are offered in the dental, medical, massage, veterinary, pharmacy, surgical, business, health services, medical billing and coding, and early childhood education fields.

Clary Sage College is a branch campus of Community Care College. It has the same accreditations in addition to a license from the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology. The programs offered are in cosmetology, aesthetics, nail technology and master instructor. Clary Sage also offers a vast number of spa and salon services to the public at a reduced rate and houses a retail store.

Our latest expansion is Oklahoma Technical College, which is geared to the young male market. The campus is scheduled to launch in January 2009 with automotive, diesel and welding programs. We’re excited to partner with equipment brands such as Snap-on, NAPA, Hunter and Rotary.

We are also seeking accreditation with National Automotive Technicians Foundation, American Welding Society, and National Center for Construction Education and Research.

2. What prompted you initially to take a risk and open the first college, Community Care College,
in 1995?

I, too, graduated from a career college and know the value of skilled training for a specific job. When I went from car hopping at a Sonic Drive-in to working as a professional dental assistant, I enjoyed the most profound life-changing experiences I have ever encountered. People looked at me differently and listened to what I had to say. By opening a school, my desire to be directly involved in advancing the profession and enhancing the quality of career education could be fulfilled.

Most importantly, I wanted to be my own boss. I was never one to take orders very well.

3. Along the way, have you ever wrestled with any doubts that your entrepreneurial ideas would succeed? What has kept you going?

Yes, I have made many mistakes. I call it the School of Hard Knox! Seriously, early on in the business, I have had to face the IRS due to late tax payments (not pretty), work out crazy payment plans with vendors, ask employees to hold their paychecks a few days so they would clear, accept a lot of rejection from the banks and neglect my family due to time requirements.

Faith keeps me going, along with the amazing team at our company — including my fantastic and talented husband, Ivan, who joined the business officially a few years ago.

4. What aspects of your work bring you the greatest joy and satisfaction?

Witnessing student success is the most fulfilling aspect of my job. I admire them and am happy that I played a small role in their career success.

5. What is the most invaluable lesson you’ve learned over the years and would want to pass along to other women who have entrepreneurial dreams?

If you do go into business for yourself and desire to expand and start adding employees, take your time and do your homework — especially background checks! One of the first employees I hired — who claimed to be an R.N. — was a con artist. Her name was fake, her certificates were fake and she had a rap sheet 4 feet long. When I had $600 come up missing, I eventually figured out that she was the guilty party.

Finally, enjoy being a woman! Don’t get caught up in all of the “competing in a man’s world” crap.

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