Being born three months premature caused me to have cerebral palsy, and I had to have 1-2 surgeries every year from the ages of 2 to 16. I had to learn to walk again. It was so hard. The disorder and corrective surgeries left me with circulation problems, limpness in my right leg and blindness in my right eye. Despite my ongoing visits to medical professionals, I graduated from high school with honors in 2003, and I planned for college.
At age 17, I was diagnosed with lupus and later osteoporosis. Even with these additional medical setbacks, I decided to keep going with my education. I quickly found it was hard to keep up, having to go to doctors so often. However, my perseverance paid off with a 4-year degree as a registered nurse from the Mt. Carmel College of Nursing in Columbus, OH.
I was excited to start work, but soon a full-time position as a home health nurse proved too physically and mentally demanding. Nursing is very stressful and since stress is one of the factors that cause my symptoms to flare up, I found nursing to be too challenging.
I was very disappointed that I couldn’t do nursing like I wanted to do. While I was sitting at home unemployed, I saw a Goodwill Columbus commercial on television. I decided to look Goodwill® up on the web. I later came in and met with a representative in workforce development who told me that Goodwill could help me.
When I arrived at Goodwill, everybody was welcoming. They treated me normally. Victor Whittington, my Goodwill instructor, was wonderful. When I’d come into the classroom, he’d say, “Hey, don’t worry about anything. You can do this, and you’ll do great.” He believed in my abilities, and the coursework in the workforce development program at Goodwill taught me the medical billing and office skills I currently use today.
While networking at Goodwill, I found a job that would allow me to use my old and new skills. When I started my job as a patient accounts representative at Practice Outsourcing Solutions on August 30, 2010, I was amazed at how fast I caught on to my work. All the skills I learned at Goodwill were directly tied to this job.
Looking back, I found Goodwill to be a facility where all the people, especially those with disabilities, understood each other, and I liked the fact that I did not have to explain myself. The time I spent at Goodwill resulted in me knowing that I can accomplish something as an adult. It makes me feel great, and I want others with disabilities to know that just because they have disabilities doesn’t mean they can’t do anything with their lives. There’s something out there for all of us to do and be great at while we’re doing it.
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