• May 15, 2022
 Recent SpEd Grads Get Job Training for Life After High School

Recent SpEd Grads Get Job Training for Life After High School

Recent Franklin High graduate Sean Marusich welcomes everyone entering the front of the Hospitals at Providence Memorial Campus with a wide smile that is proof of his eagerness to make guests and patients feel welcomed.

“I love working with my colleagues and friends,” Marusich said. “I’m a greeter. I’m doing a great job.”

Marusich and 11 other recent EPISD graduates are part of Project Search, a 10-month program for students who have completed their academic requirement according to their Individual Education Plan but still have eligibility for school services under special education.

“Project Search is a completer program that provides work experience before they go into the workplace,” said EPISD special education teacher Richard Harrid, who coordinates Project Search and works on-site. “This program is beneficial for our students because we target specific work skills as well as soft skills. We provide them with practice and feedback on how they can improve and walk them through the steps of acquiring these skills all the way up until they go to their interviews and seek employment.”

The students are interning throughout the hospital in a variety of settings including the gift shop, central supply, food services, accounting and the front desk.

“The interns that we have this year are working to their maximum potential,” Harrid said. “They’re trying their absolute best and they are well received by the Hospitals of Providence. I look forward to great things from them.”

EPISD uses the Project Search national curriculum, which is then aligned with the career preparation TEKs. The interns practice work skills and receive instruction in the morning before heading to their departments for hands-on learning.

“The interns receive evaluation feedback from myself as well as from their department supervisors and we use that information to target interventions to help them become work ready at the end of the program,” Harrid said. “Then in conjunction with their vocational rehabilitation counselors, Texas Workforce Solutions and myself, we work with the interns and try to help them find meaningful employment in different locations including here at the Hospitals of Providence.”

Celina Azar, director of volunteer services and PBX for the Hospitals of Providence, works closely with the interns and Harrid. It’s the second year of the program at HOP and several of last year’s interns have found regular employment at the hospital.

“We are so grateful to have these interns throughout our campus,” Azar said. “We get to prepare them with job skills for their future and in turn get rewarded with their amazing personalities.  The interns’ classroom is in our volunteer office and it is wonderful to see them develop throughout the year. It is a humbling experience.”

Azar often accompanies Marusich in the front area of the hospital, greeting guests and providing information. She finds Marusich’s role a perfect fit for his personality.

“He’s the sunshine. He comes in and just makes everybody smile,” Azar said. “Many individuals entering the hospital come in with high anxiety.  Sean makes them feel comfortable and lowers their anxiety with his kindness.”

Coronado graduate Andrea Guaderrama spent most of her morning transporting patients with a supervisor. She maneuvered a wheelchair to different areas of the hospital, picking up and dropping off patients waiting to go to radiology.

Her favorite part of the job: “I get to travel the entire hospital and see different places. I’ve learned everything like how to unplug machines and beds.”

Inside the gift shop, you’ll find Stephen Vasquez. The recent Coronado graduate stood by the cash register unpacking cases of Brownie Brittle before shelving them.

“I restock the Cokes and price the merchandise,” he said.

Much like his fellow interns, Vasquez smiled and responded similarly when asked how he felt about working at the hospital: “I like it.”

Story by Reneé de Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

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