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Just a magnifying glass and a chance…

January 26, 2009

Just a magnifying glass and a chance…


We are all faced with our challenges, whether it is a physical handicap like I talked about in my “Yes You Can” blog, people in our lives telling us we can’t do it or our own attitude preventing us from moving forward. I and my staff are fortunate that we get to watch students and grads face their challenges head on and conquer them. They have no idea what they give back to us by merely letting us share in their journey; it is a gift and every gift brings a new life lesson.

We had a great day in Career Services today; and here is why.

Today we feel like we opened a door. A door that we hope leads to opportunities that will launch the career of one of our very special graduates. To understand the way we feel you have to understand our friend Lori and her journey to today.

Lori started with Herzing College Online in 2006; she is blind in one eye and has almost no vision in her “good eye”. In order to be successful in college, she needed special software that magnifies the computer screen by 700% allowing her to read each word, letter by letter, meticulously and slowly. Enrolled in the medical billing and insurance coding program she spent the totality of her education not looking at her test scores because she was afraid of failing and just didn’t want to know. If you have ever seen a medical billing and coding book you know what an amazing undertaking it was for Lori, the material is complex, specific and requires accuracy, a challenge for an able-visioned person. Lori graduated in 2008 with a 3.89 GPA; an honors student.

Graduation, it is now time for our department to swing into action and help our new graduate find a job. We’ve spammed every medical clinic, hospital, nursing home and healthcare facility in Atlanta, Georgia with Lori’s resume and she has been given the opportunity to interview with several offices. Yet she hasn’t received an employment offer; after seeing her coke bottle glasses and visual limitations employers just aren’t interested despite her medical billing and coding abilities, caring demeanor and determination. It has been six months and Team Lori has had no luck.

In late December I shared with our new President Lori’s story and the unique challenges of helping graduates with a disability like Lori’s. He raised his eyebrow and asked me how it was that we were going to help her get employed. I replied that I know that there is an employer out there that will see the potential in her and give her a chance. It is just a matter of finding them.

This is the moment that revelation hit.

“I am going to send her resume to every eye doctor in Atlanta, GA, surely an eye doctor will understand her disability, and surely they will see that all Lori needs to be successful is a magnifying glass and a chance.” And that was it; a magnifying glass. We’re going to send out Lori’s resume with a cover letter in the tiniest font possible and include a magnifying glass in hopes that some medical office out there will do just that…..give Lori a chance.

So today the staff gathered together to work on Lori’s resume project. Tammy printed of itty, bitty cover letters and Lori’s resume. Kay signed the letters and stuffed the envelopes. Tammy and I added the magnifying glasses and sealed them; all the while saying positive mantras out loud along with the recipients names. You are probably already thinking we are crazy but it gets better. You know how people throw salt over their shoulders for good luck? Well we decided that for additional luck, we would “salt” the resumes before we sent them. All seven of us took a turn shaking salt on Lori’s letters thinking positive employment thoughts and hoping for a positive outcome before turning them over to the mailbox. Call us crazy, but it couldn’t hurt and at most we wasted a little salt and it was a fun team bonding moment.

Lori has touch each of us in Career Services in some capacity. She always has positive words to say and a hopeful outlook that is contagious. You can’t talk to Lori on the phone and not smile; it’s not possible. Unlike the other staff, I have had the pleasure of meeting Lori in person and the opportunity to give her a big hug, an opportunity we are rarely afforded in the world of online education. I’ve seen in person the “light” that is Lori and thank Herzing for that opportunity. Today we hope that we are able to give back to Lori by bringing to the surface “her employer”. The job she will fit in, that will benefit from her talents and that won’t see her disability but her capabilities. We all go to bed tonight hoping we opened that door for Lori and can’t wait to celebrate with her when she calls to tell us she received a job offer.

Please join us in sending well wishes to Atlanta and if you are a doctor’s office in Atlanta…call me I’d like to tell you about one of our graduates.

Amy
Blogged with Lori’s permission she wants the world to know that a disability is not a limitation.

Feel free to contact me at achastek@onl.herzing.edu or visit the greatest place on earth to work and go to school at http://www.herzingonline.edu

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