Twenty year old Cameron is a student at Howard Community College, has an amazing interest in films and computers, and likes to walk his dog. Cameron is also an Administrative Support Specialist at the largest employer in Howard County, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). “Cam,” as he likes to be called, has been working part time (20 hours per week) in the Strategic Systems Business Areas at APL since January 2013.
Cam’s journey to APL began late spring 2012, when Howard Heuberger, an Assistant Program Manager at APL, met Hope Couser, a nurse with The Arc, at a gas station. Hope was wearing an Arc t-shirt. Howard took notice and wanted to know more about how an employer could participate in The Arc’s Employment Services program. Hope connected Howard to Bonnie Cronin Geisbert, Director of Day & Employment Services, who pulled in Julie Humble, an Employment Specialist. Working together, Howard created a position that would meet APL’s constantly changing needs. He explored many avenues within the APL system and obtained assistance from others in making this opportunity possible. Throughout the process, he demonstrated a sense of respect and dignity for the individuals The Arc serves, eager to learn about their skill sets and support needs. Howard’s passion and dedication are evident in everything he does, and most of all in the advocacy he provides to Cam. It took several months to create the position, post the requisition and go through the interview process. Between the time the offer was made to Cam and the day he started, Howard created what is known as “Team Cameron,” a group of APL employees who volunteer their time to provide additional natural supports to Cam on the job.
Cam’s position was created to support multiple departments on the APL campus, as such he has many job duties and is continuously learning additional tasks all the time. Some of his responsibilities include making sure that copiers throughout the building have paper and cartridges and that the rooms are kept tidy. He also completes data entry, generates reports, and transports materials between buildings on the APL campus using their shuttle system. In addition to his natural supports at APL, he has a job coach through The Arc, Leonard Djomgoue, who visits Cam twice a month at his APL office. Both Leonard and Julie are in communication with Howard, and are available to assist Cam in learning new tasks as they arise.
Cam has grown leaps and bounds since working at APL. He has developed a newly found sense of confidence in himself and has independently created and maintained connections with his co-workers. When Cam was faced with a challenging task in the beginning, he didn’t give up; he took the time to ensure that his work was thorough and accurate. With every hurdle Cam has cleared, he has become more independent. Cam is truly an inspiration to those around him because of his dedication, perseverance and witty sense of humor. Way to go Cam!