When I came to Vancouver (new window) after several years of studying in the USA I was hoping to find a job in the area that I felt most passionate about – disability NGO. This interest was driven not only by my educational background in public administration and disability studies, but also by my personal experience of living with an acquired disability (new window). I have been an amputee (new window) since I was twelve when I was diagnosed with bone cancer (new window). Disability has had a big impact on my life, both positive and negative. It has certainly enriched my life and opened the opportunities I could not have imagined it would. Maybe that’s why I appreciate the field of disability studies so much because it forces us to re-think the conventional perceptions about disability, to step away from musicalized definitions and explore the social, political, cultural, and economic factors that define disability. Ultimately, we do not need to overcome our disability; we need to learn to accept this experience in all areas of our life, including employment.
The journey toward my goal of finding work in Vancouver was rewarding but not easy. My status as a non-citizen, a newcomer, and a person with a disability made the task even more challenging. It seemed that there is something more to my Master’s degree (new window), experience working in the university and an advocacy organization that I was missing. At that point I knew that certain factors probably play a bigger a role than I have anticipated. The months of fruitless job searching made me realize that I might need some help. Luckily, as a researcher I have no problem looking for solutions and identifying the resources I need. And that’s when I learned about Neil Squire Society (new window).
When I came to Neil Squire Society (new window), my hopes were high because the Working Together Program seemed to fit perfectly for someone like me – a person with a disability who is job ready. What was especially encouraging is their intention not just to find ANY employment for me, but the job I will feel passionate about. In fact, I will always remember that one of the first questions that my job developer asked me was about my passion. It was hard to believe after months of efforts that I still had an option of choosing and not simply sticking with whatever comes along.
My job as Service Programs Administrative Coordinator in Spinal Cord Injury BC (new window) involves supporting the organization’s provincial services. I have the opportunity to work on a broad range of administrative, outcomes and reporting, and event-based activities. The most rewarding part of the job is working with people and making sure they are benefiting from the service the organization provides. Spinal Cord Injury BC (new window) has been providing services for people with spinal cord injuries (new window) and related disabilities as well as their family members for almost four decades. It is great to work among such a devoted and fun group of people. The process of formulating new goals is never ending, and I am thankful to Neil Squire Society (new window) for not letting me stop in this process.