COLLEGE STATION, Texas — October highlights National Disability Awareness Employment Month and Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in College Station partners with Project SEARCH to help support individuals in the area.
It’s a post-secondary program helping provide employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities.
“At the start of our day, our interns have class time and in class, we are working on employability skills and soft skills, so those skills that are going to get them the job and keep them the job,” said Beth Sherry, College Station ISD Project SEARCH Instructor. “Once the interns go to their internship every day, I am making the rounds and checking in with them and supporting them with any skills they may need help with.”
Project SEARCH intern Courtney Martinez has been in the program since August.
“My disability, sometimes it can be rough on certain days,” Martinez said. “I was diagnosed with ADHD at 12 years old and from up there, I’ve been really good. There’s good parts and bad parts about ADHD. Sometimes, it’ll make me lose focus, not really concentrate on one thing but it does make me realize hey you need to get back on track.”
The Texas Workforce Investment Council says Texas has the second largest number of individuals with disabilities of all the states.
Martinez says this program is teaching her invaluable life skills.
“You got to be on time,” said Martinez. “You got to be direct. You got to be a people person. Even when you’re not a people person, you still got to look at people, shake their hand, be direct with people. That’s why I say treat every day like an interview.”
With treating each day like an interview, Martinez is excited to restock the hospital carts throughout the hospital for the nurses and surgeons
We asked if Martinez could do anything in the world, what would she choose as a career?
“If I can do anything, I would be a personal trainer or babysit,” said Martinez. “I like kids, then also be a scrub tech. A scrub tech is my main one, to help pass out tools to the surgery people."
She says her disability is part of her identity and she’s proud of it.
“You don’t have to be ashamed about your disability, and I’m not ashamed to be here,” said Martinez. “I’m not ashamed to tell people about Project SEARCH. I’m proud of my disability. I’m ADHD — and I’m proud.”
Project SEARCH will host an informational session next week, and you can learn more on their Facebook page. They will start accepting applications mid-December and close applications at the end of January.
While Project SEARCH is in College Station, there are a variety of resources available through the U.S. Department of Labor for National Disability Awareness Employment Month here.