You Have a Voice: Mariel Sanchez
The experience and insight gained from working in her mother’s daycare center and studying Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences fuel the desire of Mariel Sanchez to start her own business. Sanchez connected with DDS/RSA during her senior year at Columbia Heights Education Campus and got support to attend college. She was finishing up her undergraduate degree at Trinity University when her case was transferred to Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist Stephen Calvit. He noticed right away that she was passionate, patient, and had the ability to accomplish great things. She just needed help bringing it out.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in human relations, Sanchez reached back to RSA for help with her career search. She was interested in teaching but had been turned down from multiple positions because she didn’t meet the education requirements. With the support of Calvit, she re-enrolled at Trinity University to pursue a graduate degree in Early Childhood Education Administration. Sanchez excelled in her studies and graduated in the winter of 2019. Once again, her RSA team rallied to help her obtain employment. The biggest challenges facing her were shyness and a lack of confidence.
Sanchez admits that she is often reluctant to ask for help. Aware of her struggle, Calvit and others invested time and effort to boost her confidence. “Mr. Calvit and Mr. Jones* made me feel I could do anything. They really took the time to get to know me as a person and understood what I wanted to accomplish.” Calvit remembers when Sanchez got the request for an interview with the United Planning Organization (UPO). “She was a nervous wreck.” After a week of pep talks, encouraging text messages, and mock interviews, Sanchez had her interview. On February 2, 2020 (45 days after graduating), she was offered a position in the Office of Early Learning as a Learning Specialist.
Flourishing in her position, Sanchez works with teachers at four sites, reviewing lesson plans, observing classroom management, and providing technical support for curriculum software to make certain children from birth to age 3 receive a strong educational foundation. Her future goals include homeownership and starting her own child care business, just like her mom. She offers sound advice to other young people with disabilities: “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people when you need help. Organizations like RSA can help you academically and professionally. You have a voice. Learn how to use it.”
- Christian Jones is an Employment Coordinator in the RSA Transition Unit.