Tell us about you:
My grandfather who was Native American and came from the Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma used to say to me as a kid, “you do not know how another person feels until you have a walked a mile in their shoes.” Well, I have walked in many of our consumers’ shoes and I use that experience to help guide me every day. As a child growing up, my mother held tight to the core belief that I had the right to try to do anything anyone else could try, football, scouts, debate team, etc., but with that core belief came a caveat of accountability that I had to give everything my all and try to excel with or without a disability. I am a former DOR consumer and now the District Administrator for the San Joaquin Valley District of the Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Division.
How have VR Services impacted you?
I would not be where I am today had it not been for DOR. In 1989, DOR services were a vocational life raft during a turbulent time in my vocational journey … unemployed and feeling utterly discouraged after suffering from discrimination and harassment from my newly hired manager at the bank where I quit, I was casually referred to DOR. After that, the rest (as they say) is history. I … was eventually hired as a rehabilitation counselor … then promoting over the years into different positions within DOR, but it all started with an outstanding supportive rehabilitation counselor who “found a way to yes” and propelled me into the career I have today. … Being a former consumer … gives me a unique perspective … of having been where other consumers are at.
What does 100 years of VR mean to you?
You may never realize the lasting impact and ripple effect vocational rehabilitation services may have on the lives of individuals with disabilities.