As I child and teenager I never really explored my interests to see if they could have developed into a way to support myself. Being in a boarding school I helped out in the kitchen and helped clean the school on the weekend when other kids went home. I wanted to become a priest or a police officer as a kid.
As a teenager I just did the typical retail and fast food jobs. Over the years my mother felt I should learn a trade, become a forest ranger or attend the merchant marine academy to work on a ship. A professional did some testing on me that suggested learning a trade, otherwise I would be subject to a lifetime of low wage jobs. At the time I wanted to attend college and was a bit hardheaded. Yet I felt I may not be smart enough for the merchant marine academy or go to college to be a forest ranger due to the science courses needed. Some of my testing after being in the workforce showed the following areas would be good matches: outdoors technology, science skilled, protective service, medical billing and coding. I value orderliness, clear directions, and efficiency in my work settings. My profile indicated that I enjoy structure as well as repetition of tasks to work at optimum performance levels and master assignments. I also value settings which includes social interaction. I read a book called Employment for Individuals with NVLD. Some of the careers the book suggested were library science, bank teller, college professor, medical information tech, and vet tech.
Knowing what I know now I would have made an application to the merchant marine academy to see what that would have brought. Living on a Semester at Sea ship for almost 4 months showed me how well I did on the ocean. Or, I would have done the Junior College route and learned a trade or received technical training. I always wanted to be an expert at something.
After many years of going from job to job with a lot of judgement being made against me and harassment towards me, I decided I needed to officially document my disability in order to have some protection in the work force. My disabilities caused frustration for me and my family for many years. I had problems with communication and difficulty interacting with others. Yet I was too social to be considered to be autistic. As a result I had difficulty maintaining jobs and relationships. My slowness in the way I move my body can be misinterpreted as being lazy, which is not the case at all.
In order to obtain my disability status I was given medical tests and the findings were dysthymic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, learning disorder, and avoidant personality disorder. I also struggled with slow processing speed but I was very detailed orientated in my work. It was determined by the state that my ability to perform sustained work over a normal work day without frequent breaks is limited. The state officials said there was also impairment in social and occupational functioning. The judge did feel that I was highly motivated to improve my success in the workplace. It took me three years to gain my disability status. After my approval some of the relationships I had changed. Some people who were supportive and kind over time became the opposite. The people who had been unkind and lacked understanding over time became very supportive. The most important change was my father’s understanding. My dad was frustrated at times because he did not understand why I could not hold a job, although he knew I did my best to be successful in the world. After my disability status was approved, our relationship improved. I viewed my dad as a boss. He knew how to manage an office but struggled on the home front. He was however, able to see my success in the volunteer world where I received several awards due to my service. My dad has passed away now, but I continue up my efforts in the community.
I came to Cardinal Cushing School through a family member that was a priest. At the age of 7 my father drove me up from New Jersey in his green and white 1957 Chevy.
I remember the green trees and the rainy day as we drove on to the school grounds. I came to the school because my parents were concerned about my learning disability, mental retardation, and behavior problems. The school was home for to me for 9 years since my family was spread out in different parts of the world.
Sr. Shawn and Cardinal Cushing made all of us feel special despite our limitations. I received structure and values from the school that I still operate with today. I was baptized and confirmed by Cardinal Cushing. I was an alter boy every day after being confirmed. I enjoyed singing in the choir and played a clarinet in the school band. When Cardinal Cushing came to visit the school we had a special high mass for him, which I loved. I worked around the school on the weekends. I enjoyed working with Sr. Magdalena in the kitchen. I loved to play baseball and YAZ was my baseball idol. Sr. Jovita was the number one Red Sox fan at the school. I took part in one of the first Special Olympic events held behind the baseball field. Sr. Rita organized a class trip to Washington, DC and the highlight was meeting Sen. Ted Kennedy and Congressman Tip O Neil.
When Cardinal Cushing died it was a sad day. The day of his burial at the Portiuncula chapel as we sang at the chapel doors you could see the large crowd in the parking lot.
When I came to Cardinal Cushing my goal was to graduate from high school. After graduating from St. Coletta I attended Gables Academy in Miami, Florida. After a year my father was transferred to Houston, Texas and I completed high school with a lot of help and determination. From there we moved to Connecticut. I attended Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut. After successful completion I was able to transfer to Texas Christian University and obtain a degree in Business Administration. Since college I have had to face many challenges in the employment world due to my background and limitations. This lack of knowledge has put me through more jobs than the average person. The safe start and the values system that St. Coletta provided me kept me from going down a lot of wrong paths.