Unique Partnership Between MRS and RCPD Brings More Opportunities for Spartans

February 26th, 2016

Caitlin Van Ermen

The Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities is well-versed in academic accommodation strategy, but recognized an opportunity to ensure that this preparation translates into careers for Spartans. With this new initiative, students can achieve their potential to fully participate as leaders in the workforce. This endeavor developed a partnership with the Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) and MSU’s Career Services, and rooted its efforts to help guide scholars through a smooth transition into careers. For the first time in the State of Michigan, college students can access an MRS counselor on his/her own campus. 

Collaborative Partnerships

Two true Spartans recognized a way to help build our platform and empower students to move beyond expectations. Alumni Mike and Kathy Bosco founded and invested in the creation of the MSU/MRS Careers Collaborative. As leaders in the community, these Spartans knew how strong academics can bring great careers.

Michael Hudson, Director of the RCPD highlighted, “The Boscos were there with critical help as we sought to accelerate a focus on career outcomes.  Their generosity made this program possible.”

Three generations of the Bosco Family united next to their plaque on the RCPD donor tree 

Tammison Smith, a Spartan from the Career Services Department, has been a ready partner and a key to the success of this collaboration. She states, “The Career Services Network is honored to be part of the Careers Collaborative. Students may need help connecting to resources which can assist them in accessing employment resources. The Careers Collaborative is designed to provide students with a variety of new opportunities and make the process of accessing them straightforward.”

Program facilitator Kate Long joined team RCPD and uses her expertise from her Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling position at MRS to work with program participants. She partners with the MSU Rehabilitation Counseling Program to support Spartans through career counseling and guidance with focus on disability advocacy, employment readiness, workplace accommodations, and job and internship placement. Kate brought in community leaders to host three outreach events as part of the Careers Collaborative Seminar Series.

Seminar Series in Action

The Meijer Corporation reached out to the Careers Collaborative hoping to reciprocate the program’s efforts to actively seek diversity, recognize different ability levels, and employ persons with disabilities. The Meijer Corporation is a committed leader and a ready supporter of this initiative carrying abundant employment opportunities.

Professionals from the Meijer Corporation journeyed from Grand Rapids to Michigan State’s campus to host a two-day event focused on interview skills and sharing personal journeys of individuals with disabilities within this company. A Meijer supervisor, Marcelo Olivarez, voiced his successful journey as an individual with a physical disability. Cecil Brown, a member of Meijer’s Talent Acquisition team, and Dorrie Thompsett, a member from Meijer Disability Management Team, united to share a corporate perspective. They shared with students soon to enter the workforce how to prepare for and find employment.


Kate Long and Cecil Brown communicate possibilities to students

Through Kate’s one-on-one time with students, a majority of individuals identified concerns with the interview process. Students were unsure how to address accommodations with an employer, what questions employers are allowed to ask, and if they should disclose a disability. Kate Long called on the help of Stacy Hickox, an MSU faculty member who taught employment law, civil rights, and disability law at MSU’s law school. Together they presented ‘The ABC’s of Disability Disclosure’.


Stacy Hickox shared her expertise with a room full of engaged individuals 

Stacy Hickox remarked, “The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed shortly after I started practicing law, so it was exciting to be involved in representing employees at that time.  I also have a brother with a physical disability and I've seen the challenges he's faced.”

Event participants took advantage of the Q&A session

As an author of a book about the Americans with Disabilities Act, Hickox’s expertise proved to be valued by the participating students. She declared, “MSU students with a disability should remember that they have as much to contribute in the workplace as anyone else, they just may need some accommodation to make that contribution.  Don't be afraid to stand up for your right to receive such an accommodation, not only for yourself but for others who may not have the education or opportunities that you have.”

Thanks to the sponsor, MSU Federal Credit Union, the Seminar Series hosted the Professional Prep Dinner offering students true experiential learning. To read more about this event, visit: “RCPD Students Have the Opportunity to Dress Up Their Interview Skills”

The Seminar Series provides participants the necessary exposure to become a competitive contender in the job search game. Stay tuned; the Seminar Series is hosting more events centered on networking and jump-starting summer career opportunities. If you are interested in being a part of the Careers Collaborative, speak to your specialist for a referral or apply online