Three young adults are ready and eager to enter the workforce after spending a year learning job skills and completing internships at Memorial Hospital of South Bend.
Guadalupe Dominguez, Nathan Hawkins and Patrick Moses took a quick break from their job hunt to celebrate their graduation from Project SEARCH on June 5.
Teachers, hospital employees and family members attended the graduation ceremony to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and hard work.
Guadalupe, who is bilingual and interested in finding work as an interpreter, translated the graduation ceremony into Spanish for family members in attendance. During her time with Project SEARCH, Guadalupe had the opportunity to shadow interpreters at the hospital and even translated for a patient on her own.
“You’ve become better workers, better friends and better people,” said Anne Long, Project SEARCH teacher through South Bend Community Schools. “Always remember to treat others as you’d want to be treated, and you will go far in life.”
Gail Gronek Weismann, director of nutritional services, thanked each of the graduates for their time spent in her department and gave them words of advice for their futures.
“You’ve each grown as employees and individuals and were truly assets to our team,” she said. “We feel your absence already and you should be very proud. We wish you all the best of luck and we are so glad to be part of your story.”
Daniel Beebe, an ADEC employment consultant, has been helping students with job applications and coaching them on internship skills. He said the graduates have already been getting bites from employers interested in hiring them.
“I’ve definitely been impressed by their work ethic and determination,” he said. “They are willing and interested in learning new things and they would make a great addition to any workplace.”
Project SEARCH is a school-to-work training program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities that aims to prepare students for employment while also filling high turnover, entry-level positions in local businesses.
The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is twice as high as for those with no disability — Project SEARCH was established as a way to change that statistic. More than 100 programs across the country have successfully placed young adults with disabilities in high-demand jobs in industries like healthcare, data entry, customer service and more.
ADEC’s Project SEARCH program was launched in 2010 as a partnership between ADEC, South Bend Community Schools, Beacon Health Systems and Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation.