25 Jul 2014

Front row, left to right:  Colin McIntire, Will Kuhn, Matthew Marshall, Greg Fehribach, Dustin Gilmer and Andrew Seever.  Second row, left to right:  Larry Markle, director of the Office of Disability Services at Ball State University; Juli Paini, director of the City of Indianapolis Office of Disability Affairs; Dr. Ray Scheele, professor of Political Science and co-director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University.  Andrew Seever is an intern for the City of Indianapolis’ Office of Disability Affairs.

On July 26, our nation marks the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

For people with disabilities, their colleagues and friends, the 24th anniversary represents landmark civil rights legislation that has improved the lives of millions of people.   While the ADA has opened doors to people with disabilities, we lag behind the rest of the population in terms of ability to secure economic equality. 
College students with disabilities are particularly at a disadvantage in obtaining employment after graduation.  Employers often see the disability, and not the work ethic or determination that actually pushed the student through college.  In fact, people with disabilities are often effective and loyal employees.
I am privileged to work with Ball State University’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs and Eskenazi Health to establish paid internships for students with disabilities at one of our nation’s premier public hospitals.  This summer, four Ball State University students are interning at Eskenazi, gaining valuable professional and personal experiences. 
It has literally been life changing for these students, as reflected by their remarks on their internships:
My internship at Eskanazi has, in no uncertain terms, changed my life; it has given me confidence, determination, and experiences that I feel will be helpful in many aspects of my life. My job entails assisting the therapists in any way they need, and through this I have learned more than I could have asked for about how a hospital functions, and more importantly to me, how I can function in a hospital environment. Before this, I was very concerned with how exactly I could be a doctor, or even have a job at all. Now I know that even though it may take some extra work, there is nothing stopping me from entering the work force as whatever I want.
Matthew Marshall, Physical Therapy Department
This internship has been more than I anticipated it would be. I have been able to use the skills I have been given by my university to confirm my desires to pursue a career in the media industry. I have been able to craft my writing into meaningful projects that will impact the community, I have been able to work with a team of experts that love their job and are willing to help others learn and improve as a team working together, and I have also been able to prove to myself that I can be a working member in society doing the things I love to do! 
Dustin Gilmer, Public Affairs Department

 This internship has been amazing. The people I work with are amazing, the experience that I am getting is going to help me in my future job and it does help that we get to earn a paycheck too. This internship is pretty much my first job and I just love it. The Hospital in general is amazing too. Coming to work in the morning and everyone says hi to you. There is not a better feeling than that. As you can tell I really love this internship. 
Will Kuhn, Public Affairs Department
On behalf of the Bowen Center Disability Project, I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Eskenazi internship team for investing in these students. In doing so, they are developing an employment model that businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations can mirror.

This group of interns is learning that the American dream can be achieved. Their hard work in the classroom and throughout their internships is a big step towards that goal. By expanding meaningful and sustainable economic opportunities for students with disabilities, we can continue to fulfill the promise of the ADA.

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