Guest post: Mentor helps pave road for success

Contributed by Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities

While Katie Marino was just in her second month living in Columbus, her BSVI counselor Albert Pauley remembers a little girl growing up in Newark who wanted to drive a bus … a truck … maybe fly an airplane! That earlier collaboration arose through the former vocational development specialists program of the Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI) that paired OOD counselors with children as young as preschool. “She’s flowered,” Pauley said.

katie-marino-guide-dog_cropMarino has only vague childhood memories of “Mr. Pauley,” but she does vividly recall the time she realized that driving might not be the greatest career for a person born blind. She also recalls discovering technology in the 1990s and the excitement it brought her way. “He was really good, I’ll tell you that,” she says of their early vocational development collaboration.

Marino taught herself to use JAWS, a powerful, complex screen-reading program, and moved from there to the iPhone. Fascination with Apple started early with a silent iPod and then a talking Nano. She recalls counting the clicks to get to the right adjustment on her not so accessible iPod Classic.

After graduating from the Ohio State School for the Blind in 2011, Marino participated in BSVI’s Work and Learn program for the next two summers, exposing her to activities as diverse as “Science on a Cart” at COSI, helping with food pantry appointments, and data entry. “That’s when I really found my niche and fell in love with technology,” Marino recalls.

A friend working for Red Roof Inn got her interested in a position where she could work from home by phone. The employment process required two interviews, including situational role playing. Last October, Marino got an entry-level reservationist position, at 25 hours a week.

After her first three months, she read about a $1-per-hour higher position in VIP reservations, 40 hours a week that would involve troubleshooting and using math and other skills to deal with loyal customers. Those technology skills first promoted by Albert Pauley in childhood, combined with the training, natural talent and some technology adjustments like scripting to make everything accessible, allowed for this rapid promotion.

“I’m going to wait a while for something else,” Marino said. For now, with steady paychecks, she’s happy to be learning the ropes of living in the big city.


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