SU works with multiple nonprofit organizations to provide jobs for neurodivergent people, said Mark Andrews, assistant director of the Commons dining hall.
Dove Point is one such organization, with the goal of connecting people with disabilities to the services that meet their needs, according to the Dove Point website.
When Andrews started working for SU the university had a contractual relationship with Dove Point. Over the next two years Andrews said he wanted people from this organization to be hired directly as employees of SU.
He is a father of a son with autism and has learned patience and compassion through his experiences. He understands that a neurodivergent person may learn in different ways than a neurotypical person.
For Andrews and his team, he has always tried to give people opportunities. There are so many skills and strengths that every position has someone that will thrive in it, he said.
“It’s the right thing to do, to have as many out reaching arms not only here on campus but in the community,” Andrews said. “Providing opportunities for people that may not normally have that opportunity.”
Lincoln Busek has down syndrome and began his career with SU through connections made with Lower Shore Enterprises, a nonprofit organization offering employment resources to people of varying abilities.
LCE helps people live more independently by developing employable skills, gaining job experience through volunteer work and other services, according to the LSE website.
Busek has made friends during his time working for SU and believes his coworkers see him for who he is.
Wearing the maroon and gold uniform of the SU dining services, he says his coworkers treat him like he’s no different from anyone else.
“Everyone sees me for me and I love it,” Busek said.
Ginny Poorman, assistant manager of university dining services, said this is the first job where she has been truly open about her diagnosis and wishes she had done so years ago.
Poorman was originally misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder as a child and only diagnosed with adult ADHD when she was 21.
During her time at SU she has found her coworkers to be open and welcoming and feels she can just be her. Yet she notes it wasn’t always this way, pointing out how much change has been made, Poorman said.
“Your generation has flipped so much of the script for neurodivergency, mental health, racism,” Poorman said. “I feel like your generation has really focused on changing the way that people look at and treat other people.”
By NATHANAEL MILLER
Featured images courtesy of Nathanael Miller