Path Home Shows 2017 Show Archive June 2017 Show 1725 Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1725

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1725

This week on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we look at owning your own business and how immigration affects our workforce.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1725

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1725

For more information visit these links:


Meridian Technology Center


Metro Career Academy

Metro Technology Centers

Aspiring Americans

University of Michigan - Akash Patel

Chisholm Trail 150

Chisholm Trail Heritage Center

Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center

Central Technology Center

Oklahoma SkillsUSA


Oklahoma Highway Patrol

Show Details

Show 1725: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: June 18, 2017



Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” Today, our show is about “place” and what that means in our lives. We begin with a small startup business that demonstrates a much larger trend – that the most successful entrepreneurial group in America wasn't born here.

I don’t think you go to any other country, and, you know, you walk in, you get a good education, and then you can dream to even attempt something of this nature.

Rob: We will look at the role immigrants and the children of immigrants play in our economy.

We learned the anatomy, the function. We dissected an eye. We learned the different eye exams that we can do, and, like, we did it on other classmates. And all of that just really got me excited.

Rob: We tip our ten-gallon hats to this summer’s sesquicentennial celebration of an iconic trail that put Oklahoma at the crossroads of the nation. And we end our day, with some modern day trailblazers. Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Female Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by CareerTech – a job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every company -- with additional support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Rob McClendon. In the midst of our country’s debate over immigration, a recent study shows that the majority of the most successful recent business startups, now valued over a billion dollars, were founded by immigrants. In fact, more than 40 percent of current Fortune 500 companies were either started by immigrants or the children of immigrants. On average, immigrants are more than twice as likely to start businesses as their native-born counterparts and are now responsible for more than 25 percent of all new business creation and related job growth. Today, we begin with a small company whose owners say their success is not about where they’re from, but where they’re located.

Rob McClendon: The Oklahoma City bombing was an attack that shocked a nation – 186 dead, and in the rush to save survivors –

[NATS: Let’s go! Come on man, let’s go! They say there was possibly another bomb in this area. They don’t know where].

Rob: – fears of a second bomb.

Allen Apblett: There’s a lot of terrorist explosives that they use, that are made from peroxide. They’re extremely dangerous. You just look at them sideways, and they might blow up.

Rob: A tragedy that led OSU industrial chemist Allen Apblett to look for a way to not only detect explosives, but to neutralize them in place.

Apblett: We sent the proposal in one week before 911. And so now it became really important that we do this research.

Rob: That became the genesis of a company called XploSafe.

Apblett: And in fact, our award letter came from the attorney general of the United States.

Rob: In 2009, Apblett partnered with two others, and research turned into production.

Shoaib Shaikh: When we started the company in 2009, we were, the office, or the location, that we had was a cubicle in the school of business.

Rob: XploSafe co-founder Shoaib Shaikh.

Shaikh: We cannot be a manufacturer and researcher without having space to work.

Rob: So XploSafe expanded into Meridian Tech’s business incubator.

Shaikh: The facilities at Meridian are top notch. They are the best you can get in Stillwater.

Rob: And the company began production on a material that detects and neutralizes common explosives using tiny particles so small that 50,000 of them could fit inside a human hair.

Apblett: It uses the human eye. You add a drop of something or a little spray of something or dip a test strip in a suspect material, and you see a color change.

Rob: Named one of Oklahoma’s promising new ventures, XploSafe began making sales and expanding its product line.

Rob: Helping this startup grow into its own research and production facility.

Shaikh: You know when we started this company, we started with just one technology. We had a unique high value proposition that could be useful by bomb squads or by safety personnel by industrial safety officers. And what we did first was we went out. We talked to customers. We interviewed 50 to 100 customers, found out exactly what they’re looking for and then built something based off of that. Now, going through that process, we built and sold stuff, that’s the money we used to grow our company. So we bootstrapped our way through. There was no investment coming in before. Everything you see in our facility from resources to the products, it’s all bootstrapped. In the sense that we’ve been able to generate the revenues from the sale of our products, and these revenues have been put back in the company to make new products and make new solutions, make new technologies.

Rob: Allowing these entrepreneurs to expand their chemical detection product line, while also beginning a new company called MaxQ.

Shaikh: We are a provider of advanced insulation and packaging materials for safe transportation of blood, vaccines, pharmaceuticals. Our products are used by blood banks and hospitals to save and safely store blood within the required temperature zone to extend the life and the viability of precious lifesaving blood products. For MaxQ, we right now have 12 people. It wouldn’t surprise me by the end of this year if we had 20 just at this facility trying to increase capacity to meet our demand.

Rob: A cutting-edge technology company, part of a growing trend of new startups in the U.S. owned and operated by foreign nationals.

Shaikh: We have a very diversified team. We have people from India, Bangladesh, Canada and U.S. in general. But all that is made possible by the resources and the mindset that you have in the U.S. I don’t think you go to any other country, and, you know, you walk in, you get a good education, and then you can dream to even attempt something of this nature, something near this capacity. Other countries and other places, you literally have so many other roadblocks that would prevent you from even trying to do something like this. Oklahoma in general is a super, is a really good environment to be able to start a business, to be able to dream big in terms of doing high-technology, sophisticated stuff. You don’t really have to be in Silicon Valley or the East Coast where, you know, we hear about stories where, oh, this company raised a million dollars, or this company raised $200 million to take their idea to market. How many of them actually, you know, make it? You know? And on the contrary, we see people in a place like Oklahoma or Stillwater start small. But we steadily create much more value in a local economy in terms of job creation, in terms of being able to make and sell products outside. So everything we make here is used globally. So we have, for MaxQ, we have products being used in hospitals in Canada. And for XploSafe, you know, we’ve sold products in Australia, Europe, Asia, Africa. So to think the products that we make here are used globally that brings a lot of value to the local economy is a big deal.

Rob: Now, both men are quick to point out their success was not without others’ help. They’ve received several federal grants, while on the state level, both OCAST and i2E have been instrumental in the company’s success. But it is their location in a college town and the availability of ambitious young talent they say has allowed them to hire some of the best and brightest. Now, when we return, we meet a young lady following her American dream.

Female Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon” with Rob McClendon – weekly insight into your changing world.

Rob McClendon: Pick up your smart phone, open social media or your favorite news app, and odds are in no time flat you’ll run into a rant about how millennials are ruining our country. Right or wrong, this group born between the early 1980s and the late ’90s, is often much maligned. But what about Generation Z? That is the group born in the late ’90s to early 2000s forward. And yes, they are now entering the workforce. Today, our Austin Moore introduces us to one such postmillennial who despite some huge challenges, makes Generation Z seem pretty encouraging.

Austin Moore: Spring graduation at the University of Central Oklahoma brought all the expected emotions to the Pantoja family.

Joana Pantoja: My mom said she cried. I couldn’t see her, but she said she cried almost the whole time.

Austin: But this event was hardly a given for this family of hard-working immigrants, having come to the U.S. from Durango, Mexico, only 25 years ago.

Joana Pantoja: My dad just looked for a job and found a job in roofing. And he has worked in roofing ever since. Um, hot weather, cold weather, any weather except if it is raining, but he is always out there working. And then, my mom, too, she cleans houses every day of the week on her own. So she has been doing that ever since she got here, too.

Austin: A pair of young parents working and sacrificing for the betterment of their children while waiting patiently on our beleaguered immigration system. But for Joana and her brothers, school was filled with hard lessons.

Joana Pantoja: When I was in elementary school trying to do my homework, they didn’t know English. So it was hard to even understand everything that was going on. It was hard to even get through school in general. Sometimes I would get so frustrated that I would just break down crying. And my mom was like, “I’m so sorry that I can’t help you. Like, I’d really like to understand and help you with your homework.” But you get through that.

Austin: And she did. In fact, Joana’s persistence landed her at Metro Technology Center her sophomore year of high school.

Karen Upton: Biomedical Sciences Academy is a college preparatory class, and we use the medical sciences as a venue to get to the college-level academics.

Austin: Karen Upton is the first-year instructor for the program.

[NATS: This sub-unit is available, has active sites for that and to grab ahold].

Karen Upton: We are a very high rigor program. We teach science courses such as AP biology, and chemistry and those kinds of things. We also have math classes that includes AP as well. It’s a pre-pre-medical program.

Joana Pantoja: You can do it! I did it, guys!

Austin: Joana credits the teachers in this program with preparing her for later success.

Joana Pantoja: I felt really connected to my three teachers here at Metro Tech. I felt like I could really talk to them, ask them anything. And they were there to give me advice and support me in anything I wanted to do.

Austin: But she also credits the intensity of the program.

Karen Upton: Life is tough, and college is tough, and if we make it easy, then they are not going to have the skills that they need in order to be successful.

Joana Pantoja: I was amazed going into college how much easier it was than the program. I thought it was easier than the program. I know a lot of people tell me don’t go and tell incoming students that it was a lot easier, ‘cause then they are not going to try. Well, what I felt going in was that it was a lot easier. Because all of my first basic courses were things I had already been taught here. And it was just a smoother transition from high school to college. And I know I have a lot of friends who didn’t go through, like, a rigorous program like biomed or anything similar, and they, they were struggling. A lot of them were looking for tutors. And I know my first year I was just breezing through school. I mean, I got through my first year still with a 4.0, so.

Karen Upton: Joana was a success because she wanted to be. She had endurance. She was willing to listen and willing to take suggestions. She was open to new ideas and new experiences and took those experiences and ran with them.

Austin: One of those experiences left such an impression that now having completed her Bachelor’s of Science, Joana is headed to optometry school this fall.

Joana Pantoja: I have friends and I’ve had classes with people that are like, “Oh, my God, no. I can’t. I cannot look into an eye.” And like, “No. I just can’t do that,” you know But something here at Metro Tech, we had one lecture over the eye. And we learned the anatomy, the function. We dissected an eye. We learned the different eye exams that we can do, and we did it on other classmates. And all of that just really got me excited.

Austin: An excitement that has her entire family seeing a brighter future.

Rob: Now, Joana was able to forego the typical college jobs. Instead, she found a job in an on-campus laboratory, where her supervisor was shocked to learn she already knew how to run most of the equipment. She also had the ability to write research papers. And from early on in her college career, Joana was traveling across the country, presenting research to professional conferences, experiences she credits entirely to her study in Metro Tech’s Biomedical Sciences Academy.

Female Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” a look back at the state’s first superhighway. But first, from immigrant to citizen.

Rob McClendon: Becoming a U.S. citizen can be an arduous journey that is not only time-consuming, but frustrating because of all the red tape. Yet living inside these United States illegally is even more difficult, and no one knows that better than the young man we first met last summer. Akash Patel became a U.S. citizen in 2015, but for the vast majority of his life he was undocumented, and it is through his experiences that we take a closer look at immigration.

Akash Patel: Being undocumented is very, very challenging – very hopeless sometimes. Because as you’re navigating the immigration system, you’re also going through the public school system, you’re also going through the health care system. And so you’re navigating all these different realms of social life as an immigrant, and it paints all of your experiences that can make you very fearful. You hope that no one asks you about your papers or your status. It makes you hopeless about future for college. You can’t get financial aid. You can’t get a social and work to save up for money. You can’t get a driver’s license. Being undocumented really paints your entire young adulthood until you can figure out how to adjust your status and utilize your potential as a student and as an adult.

Rob: Born in the UK and of Indian descent, Patel grew up as an ambitious student with a secret.

Patel: When we came I was a year and a half old, and we came on visitor visas. And we applied for our green cards, but we were told, “Oh, it will take a few years, it won’t take very long.” But in that time of course, your original visas expire. And what started out as a few years became 16 years. It took that long to get a green card. And then five years after that you’re allowed to become a citizen, so it took me a total of 22 years to become a citizen. I’m 24 years old now, so it’s taken my whole life to get here. It’s bittersweet though because even though my parents and I became citizens, my sister still isn’t because of the immigration issue I mentioned before called “aging out.” She was kicked off the application because of her age. So now we’re trying to figure out a way for her to get her green card and her citizenship. So now she’s going to graduate in two years with her Ph.D. in microbiology, but no legal pathway to citizenship.

Rob: And this prompted Patel to found Aspiring Americans, a nonprofit group that helps undocumented students go on to higher education.

Patel: People aren’t aware of what it means to be immigrant anymore. It is, see, what they see in the news and think that’s what it’s like. They don’t really get to know the neighbors, their coworkers, their friends, their relatives who have lived lives as immigrants and understand what it’s like, that it’s not what you see in the news. It’s not just about quotas. It’s not just about people south of the border. Immigration is a global experience that affects everybody – the most profound of human endeavors. And what we need to do is just empower each other – not, not subjugate each other.

Rob: Now, since we first visited with Akash, I am happy to tell you he has just finished his first year at the University of Michigan law school.

Female Announcer: “Horizon” is at your fingertips – join us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to catch the segments you may have missed and our latest new content as it happens.

Rob McClendon: Well, it was 150 years ago in 1867, that cowboys began driving longhorn cattle from Texas, up through Indian Territory to a rail line in Kansas. The Chisholm Trail in many ways was our state’s first superhighway, connecting us economically with the rest of the nation.

The 1,000-mile historic Chisholm Trail, known as the world’s greatest cattle trail, was like a major highway in its time. The famed trail came just after the Civil War. During the war, Texas ranches were unmanaged, leaving the southern prairies packed with cattle. At the same time, markets to the east were in great need of beef as existing cattle had been slaughtered to feed the armies and civilians. By war’s end, cattle worth $3 a head in Texas would bring up to $40 to $60 in Chicago and New York. The problem was that no railroads yet reached the Texas plains. Running from the south Texas valley north to Abilene, Kansas, the Chisholm Trail was responsible for the movement of millions of longhorns. The four-month journey pushed cattle quickly from Texas into Indian Territory where the pace was slow to fatten the cattle on free grass and water, before again pushing north to the Kansas railheads. The trail, in segments, remained in continuous use until shortly before 1889 and the opening of the unassigned lands of Oklahoma. This brought fences – making the use of the trail impossible. Later the extension of the railroad, into Texas, eventually sealed the fate of the Chisholm Trail.

Rob: Several Chisholm Trail celebrations are underway in the state. The Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid has a new large-scale exhibit detailing the trail’s place in history, while the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan opens a new exhibit this month called “Technology of the West.” And if you would like to head out on the Chisholm Trail yourself, you can, just by following State Highway 81 up through the state.

Female Announcer: Want to see more stories like this? All our segments are streaming on our YouTube channel at OklahomaHorizonTV.

Rob McClendon: No matter what trail you head out on this summer, one thing’s for sure – you’ll be sharing it with lots of semitrucks and trailers. In the face of a truck driver shortage, there is a new drive to train people for a career on the road, and a big part of that training is safety. Our Blane Singletary takes us to a statewide competition, where safety is key.

Blane Singletary: While inclement weather may cause some competitions to be called off, at the SkillsUSA Truck Driving Contest, the rain becomes part of the challenge.

Darren Rose: It’s a different type of challenge as well.

Blane: That’s Lt. Darrin Rose of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. He’s one of the judges for the 90-degree backing section of the contest.

Darren Rose: Not only are these contestants under the strain and pressure of being judged and trying to do it right and having somebody looking over them and judging everything that they do, now they’ve got to deal with the elements.

Blane: That might not sound fair, but Lt. Rose says that makes it all the more real.

Darren Rose: It does make it harder to see, harder to use your mirrors because you have water and fog on your mirrors and your windshield and everything else like that. But you know that’s life in and of itself. You’re going to have rain, you’re going to have snow, you’re going to have sunny days.

Blane: Student truck drivers from a handful of tech center programs around Oklahoma have converged at Central Tech in Drumright for this first of its kind competition in the state. John Thorpe is the assistant program director at Central Tech and says this day is really all about reinforcing safe practices on the road.

John Thorpe: Well, you know our school is designed around safety, and SkillsUSA encouraged us to start the very first truck driver training SkillsUSA competition in the state of Oklahoma.

Blane: Aside from the 90-degree backing, these students are also tested on a pre-trip check and even interview skills.

John Thorpe: These are real-world situations. The 90-degree back is something that they’ll be faced every day when they’re at work. The interview process that they go through is part of the everyday real world when they go apply for jobs. And then of course the pre-trip inspection is something they’ll do every single morning -- pre-trip and post-trip that truck every single day.

Blane: Part of the way they make these situations real is by having real-world industry partners judge and assist with the contest. Along with the OHP, Oklahoma DPS troopers help judge the pre-check portion, similar to how they would when these students apply for a commercial driver’s license.

John Thorpe: Our main objective here is to take the top students that we have in our programs right now, put them together and have a competition, and see who’s the best. And, man, they’d hire these guys today. If they can, they’ll hire them today.

Blane: It’s a two-way street. Not only does this give students the opportunity to get up close and personal with industry leaders, but Josh Rhodes of Premiere Truck Group says this gives them a chance to get to know potential applicants at a time they need them most.

Josh Rhodes: There’s a pretty good driver shortage out there, and that’s led to a lot of issues with a lot of carriers. The students that are here in the vocational system in Oklahoma I can tell you are very exceptional. I really enjoy our involvement with them because it allows us to not only help, kind of bridge the students over into some of their final job placements, but it adds a lot of value here in our industry because we can develop good local drivers for the carriers we have here in Oklahoma.

Blane: This program has a pretty quick turnaround, with students going from their first time behind the wheel of these big rigs to being license exam ready in about a month’s time. Donnie Tulk, truck driving coordinator at Central Tech, says going hands-on, like the students are doing today, is the secret to quick and effective training.

Donnie Tulk: You can’t learn to drive a truck in the classroom reading out of a school book or watching videos. It is a hands-on profession.

Blane: And what these instructors and industry partners can agree on is that the next generation of truck drivers is in good hands.

Donnie Tulk: A lot of well-prepared students, a lot of skilled students were out here today, and I think the trucking industry is going to be in good hands with these students with the proper entry level training.

Blane: And this is just the beginning. John Thorpe has big plans for when contest time comes around next year.

John Thorpe: More people, more contestants, more skills. We’re probably going to add an offset back, we’re actually going to add a drive. Yeah, it’s going to be a much longer and probably more invasive contest next year.

Rob: Well, truck driving is just one of many competitions within SkillsUSA. To see even more of what they do, we have plenty of their stories on our website at

Rob McClendon: Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we bring you our swan song, as we say our final goodbyes with a little Oklahoma inspired music.


Rob: A fond farewell for Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”


Rob McClendon: Well, that is going to wrap us up for today, but you can see more of any of our stories on our website at Follow us throughout the week on Twitter at OKHorizonTV or just like us on Facebook, where we do post our weekly stories. Thanks for including us as part of your day. I’m Rob McClendon. Hope to see you back here next week.

Female Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education with additional support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.