“If you don’t love what you do, don’t do it.”
This one sentence uttered by her professor turned Laura Rossano’s world upside down. As a senior at Hofstra University, her plan had always been to continue on to receive her Master’s in Fine Arts in the hopes of becoming a poetry professor. In this Positive Psychology course, Laura realized her passion was not in poetry, but rather in helping other teenagers with disabilities transition from high school to their next opportunity in life.
Laura enrolled in a Masters of Rehabilitation Counseling program, specializing in transition-aged youth. She graduated in two and a half years with high honors and distinction.
As she began searching for a job, there were several companies Laura applied for who were not accommodating. “I was judged because of my physical appearance and wheelchair. Sometimes I would get past a phone interview and the company would invite me for an in-person interview. They would get nervous when I asked if their office was wheelchair accessible, and would often claim it was too ‘tight’ of a space for me to work there.”
“I pride myself at how hard I work to prove my worth and the abilities I do possess. I do not let FOP rule my life.”
With this mindset, Laura began her career as a Vocational Evaluator for BOCES, a technical training school. She conducts diagnostic vocational evaluations for students who have varying forms of disabilities that just graduated high school and need a plan for their future.
BOCES has been the perfect fit for her. “I love coming to work. My coworkers are amazing. They are like my second family.”
With all the accommodations provided she needs to succeed, Laura is thriving in her career. “I have an ID which automatically opens my department door. My desk is on risers, so it is higher for me and my classroom door is propped open.”
Laura’s advice for others with a chronic illness searching for a right career fit is, “A person with a disability may need to prove themselves more than the average able-bodied person. It is not fair, but so be it. Prove how capable you are and show all you have to offer. Know your rights and do not get discouraged. Something will come along that is perfect for you.”
“Everyone is capable of something. Get out into the world and find the right fit for you,” Laura concludes.
Questions for Laura? You can contact her at [email protected].