Jessica's Next Move
Jessica has been working in her position as a Coordinator at a state agency for more than a year and a half and is at the start of a career she hopes will make a significant impact on the world. The Choice Group has had the honor of working alongside of Jessica as she has pursued, achieved, and advanced her career. Jessica has said since the beginning that she was committed to working in a field where she could help other people.
This year Jessica spoke at the Next Move’s Capable event as a keynote speaker and described the barriers she faced to complete high school, college and even graduate school. She admits readily that she needed accommodations, and has since advocated for others to complete their educational dreams. Throughout her education, she demonstrated determination and the tenacity to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. And Jessica didn’t stop there because she is putting her degree to work in a meaningful career that she chose for herself.
Jessica is a determined self-advocate. She has a powerful voice, which she uses to advocate for herself and for others. She used this voice to access services through Medicaid Waiver, the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, and eventually the Ticket to Work program, maximizing the supports and incentives that would allow her to reach her goals. Not surprisingly, she has been the director of her own services, planning what steps she would like to take in her career.
She uses her voice in her workplace to address questions about accessibility head on and makes recommendations to increase accessibility for everyone. And at the Capable event, she used her voice to inspire young people with disabilities to pursue their dreams and make a life that is meaningful to them. She is an advocate for disability inclusion and employment, and the voice of persistence, regardless of the obstacles people may encounter.
Jessica was also nominated for, and won, the APSE Personal Achievement award at the 2019 Collaborations Conference. At this conference, Jessica spoke to her challenges and accomplishments. The awards committee stated “We were impressed with Jessica's drive, her commitment to advocacy, her relentless spirit, and the fact that she is someone that worked very hard to reach her goals while overcoming barriers. We were even more impressed to learn that she was a keynote speaker for the Next Move's program event, and worked hard to access the accommodations she needed to be successful. This shows so much growth, perseverance, and the desire to challenge oneself to try new things.”
Most recently, Jessica was appointed to be a Board Member for The Next Move Program Board of Advisors. Jessica hopes to be an advocate and representative on this board to best serve others to achieve their dreams. Lastly, Jessica was also selected to serve on the Regional Quality Council for Region 4. This is a statewide initiative committed to expanding and improving services and programs for those with disabilities.
Currently, Jessica works in a human services position and has her eyes set on becoming a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor. Jessica is integrated in her job and respected by her colleagues as a valuable member of their team. She continues to grow professionally and advance her career while inspiring others to achieve their dreams as well.