Making Connections: Jamie's Path to College and Career Success

[Jamie]

My name is Jamie, and I've lived in the small town of Quincy my whole life. My family has farmed since 1980, and it is a big part of all of our lives. I enjoy reading books and using the computer to keep in touch with friends and family.

I have a mild case of cerebral palsy. This makes it difficult to walk long distances and write for a long time. My disabilities didn't affect me that much while I was in school- I just made sure I had the use of a computer for homework and tests and a note taker if the computer wasn't available. I also received physical therapy once a week. My teachers were always supportive and told me that I was a good student and that I would do well in anything I chose to do after I finished high school.

When I was in high school, I learned about DO-IT, Disabilities Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology, a program for students like me to learn more about college. Through DO-IT I was able to spend 3 summers in Seattle, and they were the best summers ever. I enjoyed getting to stay on campus, living on my own each summer, and meeting new people with disabilities. Learning what college was like and how to receive accommodations was very helpful to me in acquiring my AA degree.

Outside of the summer program, I participated on doitchat, a listserv for DO-IT Scholars and pals that also has adult mentors who help us solve disability, school, and career related problems. I asked a few questions on the DO-IT chat list and received good help. I really enjoy having a network of people online who share similar experiences where we can learn and share ideas together and get help when necessary. I remember reading about Department of Vocational Rehab (DVR) on the list. I found a local office and applied for services and was accepted thanks to the info from DO-IT and a teacher in high school. This help was great during my time in college and beyond school.

DO-IT also lent me a laptop computer to use that helped me a great deal in my schoolwork. I used it for most of my homework in high school and for all of my work in college. It is easy to carry around and very portable. Having good technology like laptops and other computer equipment is great because it helped me succeed in school and now at my job.

When it came time to get a job, after college, I utilized my DO-IT connections once more. DO-IT staff helped me with my resume and my DVR counselor helped me fill out job applications. In the end, I found a great job with Express Personal Services. After my first interview, they checked my references, and called for a second interview. The same day, they offered me a job!!

The support I got from DO-IT, through teaching me self advocacy, providing me with computer technology, helping me connect with DVR, and assisting me with college preparation and job skills development has been a big factor in my success.