Ayo Smith lives in a neighborhood where "a lot of stuff is going on." He’s frustrated with seeing young people shooting and killing each other. So, he has set his sights on working in a field that will allow him to help and protect people in his community, perhaps as a police officer or advancing in his current role as a security officer.
Smith has been employed on the event staff of CES since April 2022. He ensures that staff and guests are secure and in the right place by checking wristbands and bags and monitoring metal detectors. "It's never boring. Some days I may stay in one spot, but most days, I walk around helping people, relieving colleagues, or watching the loading dock. It’s interesting watching event staff transform a space with staging, lights, and sound equipment." His first event was a medical conference; most recently, he covered an Amazon event. "I get to meet people from around the world speaking on various topics. It's pretty exciting."
Smith's mother and sister led him to DDS. "My sister needed support, and I thought there might be something in it for me too." He enrolled in the University of the District of Columbia to study criminal justice but, after two years, decided to take a break to seek employment. "DDS has given me a lot of support. My VR Specialist Ms. Catherine Smith guides me on what to do and is very encouraging. Ms. Mary Koehler also helped me develop my resume, coached me on interview questions, and connected me with different job fairs and networking events."
His interest in protecting and serving 'his city' has inspired Smith to return to college in the fall. He hopes to earn enough credits to explore the police cadet program.
"Living in southeast DC, I see a lot of police officers and detectives. I'm interested in how they do their jobs and figuring how I can help." Smith’s confidence in his ability to make a difference comes from the support he's received from DDS. "For anybody with a disability who wants help, DDS will give you all the support you need. They will support your choices and help you navigate your goals and career path. I would have never gotten where I am now without DDS. I’m just starting; this is the beginning of something better."