As you might have read, October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, but in conjunction with this month-long observance is also National Disability Mentoring Day—which is October 17. I believe far too many people don't realize the impact mentoring can have, both on others as well as themselves. We all have been impacted by mentoring, whether we know it or not. We have family members, friends, coworkers, and other persons who are or have been mentors to us.
I can personally tell you that I have had many mentors, spanning many different aspects of my life. I have been so lucky to be connected to some amazing people who have helped guide me. I would say that my brothers and parents have been mentors to be me in different ways over the years. I learned about mentoring from CareerConnect as a graduate student at Florida State University. It was there that I connected with Dr. Karen Wolffe, who worked for the American Foundation for the Blind, and she has been a mentor to me for a number of years. She has provided advice on my career path and goals. I had a mentor prior to that in Michael Elliott, who was a state administrator in Florida. I was introduced to him through a friend named Mickey Damelio. They introduced me to Paralympic sports. We have mentors that affect different parts of our lives. Some are more formal than others—it could be your sixth grade softball coach, or your current job supervisor, but either way, they are all important.
AFB CareerConnect offers connections to mentors who are blind or visually impaired and employed in many different career fields. Connections to mentors can come from navigating the Career Clusters and the associated message boards, or by conducting a mentor search on the website under "Make Connections."
CareerConnect also has a section called "Our Stories," which contains stories about successful individuals who are blind or visually impaired. There are persons who are CareerConnect mentors and other types of stories about impressive people from the media. I am proud to mention two of the stories that we have posted in the last month. The latest story is about Donte Mickens, a past paralympic athlete and a current, Sr. Residual Market Financial Analyst. Mr. Mickens is one of the people who have affected my life while playing the sport of goalball. If you don't know what goalball is, the story provides a background and description as well. Mr. Mickens has traveled the world playing this sport while representing the United States. He took the time to answer some questions for CareerConnect.
Another awesome story went up this past month; the eighth Annual Samuel N. Hecsh Window on the Working World of Law Feature Story about AFB's own, Mark Richert, who is a member of our Public Policy team in Washington, DC. Richert's story explains how he works to change the laws that affect all individuals who are blind or visually impaired in the United States. AFB is lucky to have Mr. Richert as a team member.
If you get a chance, please think about the people in your life who have been a mentor to you—and thank them!
Mentor and protege photo courtesy of Shutterstock.