10 May 2010

As a Distinguished Fellow with Ball State University’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs, I have the honor and privilege of participating in the Center’s innovative project to help identify and address the barriers to employment that face college-educated people with disabilities.

One of my responsibilities as a fellow is to teach a political science course, The Disability Culture: Enhancing Today’s Economy. It’s the first of its kind to be offered by Ball State and offers an extensive analysis of public policies dealing with Americans with disabilities in the workplace. This semester, students gained an insider’s view of the political process from guest lecturers Tim Berry, auditor of the State of Indiana, and Bart Peterson, former mayor of Indianapolis and senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications for Eli Lilly and Company. All lecturers highlighted the importance of self-advocacy, especially in light of the current job climate.

Recent college graduates are having a difficult time finding jobs. The environment is much tougher for graduates with disabilities. That’s why the students who took my course were required to prepare a “Career Road Map to Sustainable Employment,” a business/political agenda for the next 10 years, which included their employment goals. This exercise underscores my belief that it’s incumbent upon us to determine our own destinies, so that ultimately we can become self-sufficient members of our communities.

I wish all 2010 graduates the best as they begin on their career paths. Your ability to navigate the complexities of life will serve you well in your quest for meaningful employment. Education in all its forms is the cornerstone to a civilized culture. Cherish your higher education as we count on you to enhance today’s economy.

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