Vignettes: Five Successful Texans
By Tajauna Dunning
Independent Living Association Center and other community organizations
in Texas have been working hard at assisting Latinos with disabilities
to remove barriers and find employment. Here are five snapshots
of Latino Texans with disabilities who have been successful.
was diagnosed with a heart condition at age 51. Her condition ended
the multi-year career she had at a department store. Elma visited
her local independent living center after her physician recommended
she find a less physically demanding job. An employment specialist
assessed Elma and identified her vocational interests. She discovered
one of her interests was to care for the elderly and assist them
with the activities of daily living. Today Elma is working as a
provider at Apex Primary Health. Elma said, "my new job has had
a therapeutic impact on my life, making me feel useful."
Lopez is a 23-year-old Hispanic man with a cognitive disability
from Donna, Texas. He was experiencing difficulty finding a job.
Leonardo wanted to work since he graduated high school, but he was
never successful at landing a job. Then he visited the Valley Independent
Living Association Center in Brownsville, Texas. They assisted Leonardo
with social, job seeking, and job interviewing skills. After gaining
new skills Leonardo found employment at World Technical Services
in the maintenance department.
María Trinidad began seeking employment after completing a two-year program
in Child Development at South Texas Community College. She felt
passionate about becoming an educator and working with children.
María's patience and good nature made her an ideal candidate for
this type of work, however, she was very soft spoken and shy. María
began attending workshops offered on employment and she managed
to overcome her fear of speaking in public. Ultimately she found
a position as a teacher's aide in a Head Start program. María cannot
believe she gets paid to do what she loves doing.
lives in San Juan, Texas. He is a recent high school graduate who
has a learning disability. He never held a job while in high school.
During high school his time was occupied as a player on the school's
sports teams. Muņoz learned a lot about sports during high school.
After graduation, he used this knowledge to secure a job at a sporting
goods store called Just For Feet. The store manager acknowledged
that his knowledge about sports made him an asset to the company
and the clients he assists. Muņoz took on a second job as a trainer's
assistant at Summit Sports Club. Since landing his two jobs Muņoz's
self-esteem and self-confidence have increased considerably. Muņoz
now is considering beginning a vocational career.
Alexis Perez has a cognitive disability. He also
has a physical disability that prohibits him from lifting heavy weight.
Alexis visited the Valley Association for Independent Living in Pharr,
Texas, for employment assistance. Determined to find a vocation he
would enjoy, Alexis told his employment counselor he liked to drive
and would like his employment goal to include driving. The ILC helped
Alexis sharpen his job seeking and interviewing skills. He began applying
for positions and landed two jobs: one as a valet parking attendant
and the other as a delivery driver. He enjoys both jobs since they
allow him to do what he enjoys most, driving.