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Alyssa Cowin

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I have a cognitive disability.  As you are aware, this can present challenges with the transition to work.  However, I have a great support system of family, friends and co-workers.

I am now working as an Operations Support Specialist in the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) in the office of the new Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Walker. I assist in the areas of Human Resources and Public Relations as well as other areas as needed. Some of my responsibilities are to take pictures at events, post the pictures on the DHSS Facebook page and YouTube. I deliver mail, assemble information folders, and give presentations about employment and increasing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. I also help with other tasks and special projects as needed. I love my job because I like the people, and being a part of the team and the work that I do.

The road to achieving my goal was not easy but I had help. An employment specialist helped me take part in the Early Start to Supported Employment program to explore employment opportunities.  VR and Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS) work together to help students become employed.  I got a job in a law office where I worked for 4 months. I then decided to continue my education. I became a part of Project Search, a partnership of Christiana Care, Red Clay School District, Goodwill, the Department of Education and VR. I learned many job skills at Christiana Hospital and made many good friends.

VR helped me get an interview with the Delaware Governor's Office. My VR referred me to the Former Secretary Landgraf, and she offered me a job with DHSS. I started in the Office of the Secretary on a part-time basis September 18, 2012.

My dream was to have a full-time job with benefits so that I can live independently. And I have started on the road to achieving that goal because I have been working full-time in my job since July, 2013. 

After that, DVR arranged for my job coaching to continue with a non-profit agency, Community Integrated Services (CIS). My coach has helped me find my interests to narrow down my job goals. If I have problems she helps me come up with an idea. All of these experiences gave me not only the skills but the confidence to do my current job very well.

When I was in school I had some got job because the school program. And the school help me find the job experience. Education is the most important way to prepare for independence. In addition to regular classes and obtaining a high school diploma, many high schools have programs that will assist you with preparedness and transition process. Everyone should take advantage of these programs to help them succeed. These programs taught me a lot of important things about getting a job and what to expect when I began to work.  Through the school program, I worked several jobs including the S.P.C.A., a hair salon, and a dollar tree. Finding the right job was a challenge. You have to apply, interview. Although I learned a lot in other jobs not all of them fit my interests. Transportation is always a challenge.

One of the adjustments that I made work is the time I go in to work and when I leave from work. I changed the time with paratransit when they pick me up because I was waiting a longtime for them.  A driver suggested an earlier pick up time would be during less busy time of day. I was able to work with supervisor to come in earlier. I have to be ready at 6:45am. Sometime I have to be ready at 6:25am. They will call me night before. I have to be ready to leave work by 3:30pm. Sometime I have to wait about an hour or over an hour. I think to support people with disabilities, we have to make transportation easier.

I help out at work in many departments. My supervisor gives me my assignments. One of my assignments is being co-chair of Delaware Disability Mentoring Day committee.  I am active in the community by giving speeches like this today.