Leonard would be the first to agree that he’s not the typical student. After retiring from a long career as a printer at UCSC, Leonard worked for a while in construction. But construction work was hard to come by in the changing economy. So Leonard decided to enroll in classes at Hartnell College as a returning student, and it was at Hartnell where he was diagnosed with a learning disability. This surprised him entirely, “my whole life I’ve had this disability and I’ve never been able to recognize it…I always just thought I wasn’t good at that stuff.”
Leonard was thrilled when he starting doing well in school after implementing recommended strategies to help him cope with his learning disability. His decision to pursue a degree in Digital Arts was spurred on by his newfound confidence, and he needed a way to support himself while he was going to school. So Leonard was connected to Expandability through the government’s Vocational Rehab and Employment program. He was paired with Deborah, one of Expandability’s expert Employment Specialists. With Deb’s encouragement and support, he has been on a search for part time work designed to support him in his pursuit of higher education.
Since coming to Expandability, Leonard has gained experience and knowledge crucial to his job hunt. With Deb’s help he’s been able to get organized and to really focus on how to find a decent paying part time job that will enable him to earn his degree. Leonard found the mock-interviews that Deb orchestrated extremely helpful, especially one with a friend of Deb’s in the graphic arts, which allowed him to see first hand what employers in his desired field look for. Deb also provided Leonard with guidance on how to present his extensive work experience in a standout portfolio. Leonard jokes, “I’m actually kind of old,” and he says he was overwhelmed by how much of his past experience could be utilized in his present job search. With Deb’s help he is now able to present his past service awards, training programs, and education and work history as marketable skills on a resume and in his portfolio.
But what Leonard emphasizes most of all is how grateful he feels to have Deb in his corner. He says “Deb’s my contact,” and he calls her a major part of his support system. He explains that she was open to hearing about his personal life and that he always felt she was there when he felt the world wasn’t working for him. Having Deb say “you can do this” was a huge inspiration for him, and a big reason why Leonard now feels confident and excited about both his education and future career.