Success Stories

Alexis sustained a life altering brain injury, now she helps students with disabilities find work

Professional young blonde woman standing and smiling in front of Mt. Blue high school

In March of 2016, Alexis was in a car accident that left her with a life-altering brain injury. While her friends were walking at their college graduation, Alexis was in a coma. She spent 77 days in the hospital, unable to walk.

“The first thing I remember when I woke up was that I wanted to help people.”

Alexis’ traumatic brain injury put into perspective what she wanted to do after school. Now she supports young people with disabilities in their employment journey as part of Bootcamp, a school-based Goodwill program in connection with Maine Department of Labor’s Vocational Rehabilitation.

After regaining her abilities to speak, eat and walk, Alexis enrolled in college to study Psychology as a first step to a career in helping people. Because a brain injury is a disability, she got support from Vocational Rehabilitation counselor, Sean. Vocational Rehabilitation is a Department of Labor program that assists people with disabilities (both youth and adults) prepare for, find, advance, and keep good jobs. Sometimes that includes the support of a Goodwill Career Advisor. Sean was also who told her about Goodwill’s Workforce program and encouraged her to apply for a job.

She kept studying at the University of Maine at Farmington and added a Rehabilitation minor. Soon after graduating, she was offered her dream job at Goodwill, working in schools helping students with disabilities explore the world of employment.

Alexis is a Vocational Rehabilitation Career Advisor as part of the Workforce program at Goodwill, and is a critical part of the new Bootcamp program. Bootcamp teaches students with disabilities workplace skills right in their own school. They write resumes, set goals, and practice job interview skills. Students also learn self-advocacy. This includes how and when to disclose their disability, and how to ask for and receive the support they may need. The bonus to this model is that these students are already coming to school every day, so Bootcamp is even more accessible to them, helping them gain skills needed to make a smooth transition into the world of work after high school.

Alexis spends her work week traveling to different classrooms in Maine to meet with a caseload of 10-14 high school students in each classroom, and working with a handful of local businesses to help place those students in tailored job experiences that match their interests.

One case she is particularly proud of, is a student who had a career interest in the film industry. Alexis reached out to a local TV station and developed a Work Based Learning Experience site to get the student immersed in their desired field. The student was able to connect the school room to real life work, develop their employability skills, and give them hands-on experience to determine what they want to pursue long-term. Students’ wages were paid by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for 20 to 40+ hours of work at the host job site, making the experience free for the local business. This gave the employer the opportunity to meet a potential employee, participate in the development of the local workforce, while providing a community service. Ideally, if the client likes the job and the employer likes the client’s work, this could lead to a permanent position.

Alexis still has lingering effects from her brain injury, and finds her memory loss is a daily challenge. However, she has found ways to be successful in her job and everyday tasks. She uses lots of post-it notes to leave reminders for herself at home, immediately writes important information down and writes out her students’ case notes after each session. All of which helps her support students in reaching their goals and shows how well the program is doing.

“You don’t always see a person’s disability; it looks different for everyone”.

Alexis is still recovering six years later, but has a positive outlook on her journey. She is confident, dedicated, and empathetic – qualities that shine through in her work. Most importantly, she loves her job and speaks passionately about her duties. Alexis is a great resource for her students because she knows firsthand how important it is to advocate for yourself when you have a disability. The growth she sees in her students is validating and shows her she’s making a difference in the lives of people who are recovering just like her.

On top of her work with Goodwill, Alexis is a professional photographer, a dog lover, and a strong support system for those who find themselves in a similar life-altering situation.

Looking for a rewarding career working with students to help find a job they love? Apply online at !

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