September 26, 2016
Rising Leadership Academy is encouraging

Guest blog: Joe Brown, recent Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina graduate and active job seeker

Photo of Joe Brown.

The Rising Leadership Academy (RLA) began on Saturday, Sept. 17 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes Hotel in Orlando, Fla. To give it a one-word description, I would call it encouraging.

I am a recent graduate, who went through college without knowing many of the service resources or employment accommodations available. I attended classes with every other student being able-bodied. Something that crossed my mind many times, and I’m sure others with disabilities have thought same thing: “What company would want to hire me?”

But then came the RLA.

I absolutely loved hearing from the Going for the Gold companies. They are actually looking specifically for individuals with disabilities to hire! They spoke about their accommodation processes. One could tell by the way they spoke; they truly believe an individual with a disability brings much value to their company. I thought, “maybe I am not slaving myself in school for ultimate failure.” That was so uplifting.

There is also the social aspect of the RLA.

I attended the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina (UNC). I am one of the first, if not the first person, at UNC in a wheelchair to major at this prestigious business school. Being among geniuses, I often felt I was alone in my struggles to balance my desire for employment and actually finding it.

I’m not… at all…

There are so many highly qualified individuals at the RLA, with disabilities, who are looking for employment. It is fantastic to meet so many like-minded and physically similar individuals to myself. I have definitely made some new friends over the past three days.

If there is a company out there struggling to find qualified candidates for employment, I definitely recommend looking into the Rising Leaders Class of 2016 or the many others with disabilities looking for jobs. Also, please get involved with the USBLN in the future.

Joe Brown

The Tar Heel

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