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Choose Work Blog Archives

"Why I Mentor"

This year, my company will again conduct Disability Mentoring Day as part of its month-long celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I first participated in a Disability Mentoring Day in 1999, when my former employer invited high school students with disabilities to visit our workplace and learn from employees—both those with and without disabilities—about their work. As a mentor, I joined in on the student “job shadowing” experience to share what my job was like and how I prepared for my career.

Michael GreenbergSince that time, much research has been conducted about the benefits of mentoring to the student-mentee, as well as to the employer and the employee-mentor. It turns out to be a “win-win-win” proposition all around. Students who are mentored more clearly understand the connection between school and work. Their ability to visualize employment is enhanced by the career awareness and first-hand exposure to the workplace that mentoring offers. They tend to perform better in school (improved attitudes, attendance, behavior and grades), have more positive relationships with their parents, teachers and peers, enjoy greater self-esteem and confidence and aspire to continue their education after high school.

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Money Mondays:Thinking About College? Financial Aid Tips for Students with Disabilities

Money Mondays logo

Attending college can be an exciting and enriching experience. It can also be a costly one. In addition to tuition, fees, books, and supplies, other expenses include room and board, health insurance, transportation, and spending money. A combination of financial aid and other funding resources can help you meet college costs. Some common types of financial aid include loans, grants, work-study, and scholarships. People with disabilities are often eligible for additional financial assistance for education. Many students use a combination of these resources to enable them to attend college. The financial aid office at the school you plan to attend is a good place to begin your search for financial aid information. An administrator there can tell you about student aid available from your state, the school itself, and other sources.
 

Types of Financial Aid

Loans – You may have options to borrow federally funded or private loans from banks or other lending institutions (For example, Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo, SunTrust).  These types of aid usually require payment of interest and may have different repayment plans, so it’s important to research all the options to decide what is best for you. To be considered for any federally funded financial aid, including loans, students must first fill out the Free Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility and the amount of funds that you are eligible to receive based on questions related to your parents, dependency, citizenship and financial status.

Grants – Unlike loans, grants do not have to be paid back, making them especially attractive to many students. However, grants usually have more requirements that you must meet to receive the funds. Grants can come from many sources, including the federal government, state governments and colleges. One of the most commonly used grant programs is the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Pell Grant. In addition, students with disabilities may be eligible for additional financial help through their state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency. VR agencies help people with disabilities develop the skills they need to gain employment. After eligibility is determined, the student will work with a counselor to define an employment goal and develop an IPE (Individualized Plan for Employment). You may find a VR near you in our Find Help tool.

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Seeing Disabilities as Assets: A Teachable Moment

A recent New York Times article highlighted the assets that people with disabilities can offer employers. The article, written by leadership consultant Peggy Klaus, described her experience giving a lecture to students in the Disabled Students’ Program at the University of California at Berkeley. In the article, she explained that while she was delighted and flattered to be invited to speak, she was also nervous. This would be her first time speaking to an audience made up entirely of people with disabilities. Furthermore, she had always felt uncomfortable around people with disabilities and was concerned she may say the wrong thing or would come off as insensitive.

She sought guidance from Paul Hippolitus, the program’s director. Hippolitus spent 30 years at the U.S. Department of Labor before coming to the university. He knows about the challenges his students face as they prepare to find work.

The Ticket to Work team talked to Hippolitus to find out more about what is being done to promote careers for students with disabilities. He has just started teaching a course, called Professional Development and Disability. The course focuses on:
 

  • History, law, and policies that impact people with disabilities
  • Learning about career paths for people with disabilities
  • Workplace accommodations
  • Setting career goals and a plan for getting there
  • Becoming a leader inside the classroom and in the workplace

Hippolitus refuses to watch these talented students become discouraged about their career possibilities. He believes that with the proper tools, they have great potential.

In the end, Klaus’ lecture went well and she found there was no need to have worried. The students put her at ease and embraced the mainstream discussion on employment. Students saw that they could present their disabilities as assets in the workplace.

Programs like the UC Berkeley program are becoming more common. Colleges and universities across the country are reaching out to motivated, career-focused students with disabilities. For additional postsecondary resources for students with disabilities, check out:
 

Read the full New York Times article.

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Social Security's 2012 Ticket to Work. What's on the Horizon for Ticket to Work Participants

If you have a disability and are ready to work or return to work, 2012 offers an optimistic outlook for employment opportunities. With a surge in disability employment support from both the White House and President Obama, you can expect positive changes on the employment front.

Below are some of the federal hiring initiatives that could positively affect Ticket to Work participants like you in 2012.

Career Path Sign

Ticket to Work can provide you with training, career counseling, and job support. Find a service provider in your area.

Learn more about Ticket to Work and how it can lead to a good job, a good career, and a better self-supporting future. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work, email us at support@chooseworkttw.net or call our Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD).

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