It was a bittersweet moment when Ryan, an Adelante Back In Use team member, left this month after three-and-a-half years.
Ryan loves computers, and had been a die-hard IT hobbyist starting way back in middle school. “I was messing with every section of the field I could get my mitts on,” he says. Wanting to take his hobby in a more professional direction, Ryan applied to work at Adelante’s Back In Use program, which he learned about from longtime friend and fellow team member, Neil.
Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome on the autism spectrum, Ryan was receiving Medicaid funds for his vocational training when he joined Adelante, but has successfully transitioned off of the Medicaid Developmental Disabilities Waiver. In addition to that milestone, Ryan was able to resume and complete his academic studies, earning his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from American Public University. Ryan attributes part of this achievement to the supportive environment and flexible schedule provided by Adelante, saying “I probably wouldn’t have been able to focus on school without being able to work this job.”
Ryan joined Back in Use as a general technician, and was promoted to train other people with disabilities how to refurbish and work on computers. He also got to expand the scope of his technical experience. “I got to explore doing some projects that I always wanted to do in a professional capacity,” he says.
Some of those projects include building the program’s Linux-based imaging server from the ground up with Neil, and installing and upgrading computer systems and network components in several Adelante day programs, all of Adelante’s Valencia County residential homes, and a computer lab in the Westview Room at Adelante’s headquarters, El Centro. Regarding these larger-scale projects, Ryan says, “If I went and looked for an IT job today, that would be the stuff that would get me in.”
Ryan moved to North Carolina to be closer to family, and to explore career options in his newly-degreed field. If you have a disability and would like to join Adelante’s Back in Use IT team, contact Jordan Robinson at JDRobinson@GoAdelante.org or (505) 341-7166.