The Center on Disability Studies in the UH Mānoa College of Education is hosting five interns from the Summer Youth Employment Program. The program provides real life employment experiences for high school and college students with disabilities. Students are referred by the Department of Human Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), which works with the individuals to find mutually beneficial worksites.
The CDS interns are working in various departments and programs within the center. In the main office, Janelle, who is a graphic arts major at Leeward Community College, offers clerical and staff support under the guidance of Velina Sugiyama.
“Everything requested of Janelle she has completed quickly and efficiently with a smile, always asking to do more,” Sugiyama said. “Staff members have given her tasks and were very happy with the results and how quickly it was done. She is a great employee, and we will miss her when she returns to LCC in the fall.”
Project TEAMS (Twice Exceptional students Achieving and Matriculating in STEM), led by Kiriko Takahashi, has two student assistants who are helping with a high school summer science camp. “Cody and Ashlee are working on running computer updates, installing apps and programs, and maintaining the equipment,” Takahashi said. “They are responsible for approximately 100 computers.”
Tom Conway in the CDS Media Center is working with Huy, a computer science major at UH Mānoa who is deaf. Huy is learning about accessible website development and computer networking. Another intern, Aaron, is working with Bill Mihalke and the Disability Benefits Planning & Technical Assistance Project. He performs general office duties as well as travel and reimbursement paperwork.
The goal of the DVR employment partnerships is for its participants to prepare for, secure, and retain competitive employment and higher wages after graduation. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Workforce Development Division coordinates with the DVR and worksites and also provides funding for the interns who are paid $10 an hour. Depending upon their age, interns work for six to eight weeks during the summer months.