Fifteen Metro Technology Center employees were in attendance as Elaine Schuster, general practice attorney and Metro Technology Centers Board Member, received the Oklahoma Historical Society Pathmaker Award of Recognition on Oct 9, 2013. The award recognizes outstanding leadership and service to the community and state in Oklahoma City/County.
Schuster credits her nomination to giving the best in every situation.
“I stick to principles. I comply with principles. I try to get the best for everyone and render my best whether for me, students or my clients,” she said. Giving her best, according to Schuster, also meant going after what she wanted in life despite those who tried to hold her back.
Raised by parents who valued a good education, Schuster was enrolled in one of only two elementary schools in Oklahoma City that offered speech, art and music. She later graduated from Classen High School and at her parents’ encouragement, went on to attend Sweet Briar College in Virginia during a time women were not expected to attend college.
After graduating from Sweet Briar in 1958, she returned to Oklahoma City to help run the family business. Once back, she earned a Master of Economics at the University of Oklahoma and accepted a teaching position at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Okla. On the first day of class, Schuster announced, “the curriculum will not be watered down because I am a woman,” and the students took her at her word; enrollment had dropped from 75 to 45 by the following day.
Schuster saved her pennies while teaching and used them to pay for law school at the University of Oklahoma. Being told that a female lawyer would never see the inside of a courtroom only motivated her to push forward as one of 7 female students in a class of 206.
Not only did she graduate law school, she was practicing in a courtroom immediately as the first female attorney for Whitten and Whitten Law Firm in Oklahoma City. She was later encouraged by a judge to apply for an Assistant District Attorney position and spent six years as a prosecutor and head of the civil division.
Schuster has served on many boards and committees over the years and was the first female appointed to the Metro Technology Centers Board of Education by Governor George Nigh in 1982. She successfully ran for the position every four years because she understands the importance of Career Tech training.
“I was raised by a machinist father who learned the trade well and successfully operated two businesses. With a background in trades, I have the knowledge and believe in a student’s ability to turn a hobby or interest into a career and support a family,” Shuster stated.
Today, Schuster is in private law practice and encourages people to chase their dreams and never let anyone tell them who to be.