For many individuals, the transition from high school to work is challenging but don’t tell Zachary Thomas. He makes it look easy.
The 19-year-old Rock Bridge High School senior will be graduating at the end of May. Yet even before he dons his cap and gown, he has reached many goals, including landing a new job at The Bluffs, a nursing facility in Columbia. Zachary, who has cerebral palsy, will be serving meals to the residents.
Zachary couldn’t be more confident and enthusiastic about what his future.
“I am really excited about working in the community and being independent,” he said. “Communication is my strength. I love to talk to people, and that’s part of what I’ll be doing at The Bluffs.”
While Zachary’s transition to the working world appears effortless, he and his team have been working towards the goal of community employment since the fall of 2011. That’s when Zachary began working with ACT Career Services and on BCFR’s Life and Work Connection’s janitorial crew.
“Zachary joined the work crew with a lot of skills but wasn’t sure what his role was when he first started,” said Justin Wann, Zachary’s janitorial crew supervisor. However, with continuous vocational training and guidance from his supervisors, Zachary progressed over the past six months.
“In my eyes, Zachary is yet another success story who came here with little confidence and has left a more mature, confident employee with a lot of knowledge about cleaning and safety precautions and an understanding of appropriate work behavior,” Justin said.
Zachary agreed. “I have learned to work my best,” he said. “I work hard and I am efficient. I am on time and I am patient with co-workers.”
With the help of ACT’s Career Services, Zachary was able to further develop job skills and explore different work environments. One of his main criteria for work was a position in which he could help others. Zachary job shadowed at organizations that met his criteria and was eventually hired at The Bluffs after shadowing and successfully interviewing.
In addition to joining the workforce, Zachary is preparing for another life change. He anticipates moving out of his parents’ home to an apartment with his brother in the near future. While he admits being a “little nervous” about moving, he is also excited about having a place of his own where he can keep up with some of his favorite hobbies including playing basketball, lifting weights, watching television and writing songs to play on his guitar.
Zachary has successfully managed many recent changes in his life but still has one goal he hopes his songwriting abilities will help him achieve — finding a girlfriend. If Zachary uses the same dedication and confidence in his personal life that he has at work, he’ll make any girl a lucky catch.