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Worcester State University Receives 2014 GWERC Employer Award

May 29, 2014
By: WSU News

Worcester State University recently received an Employer Award from the Greater Worcester Employment Resource Collaborative, which recognizes businesses, institutions, and organizations in the city of Worcester that go “above and beyond” expectations in promoting the hiring of qualified persons with disabilities.

According to Director of Human Resources Russell Vickstrom, “WSU has partnered with GWERC to provide transition employment opportunities for consumers who are re-entering the workforce, as well as referrals from them to us when filling full-time, career-focused positions.”

Worcester State was honored in particular for their recent employment of Jessalin Strait, who was hired in August of 2013 to work in the university’s Disability Services Office. Vickstrom explained that Strait applied and competed with several other individuals through the normal application process, and ended up being selected for the position based upon her own skill and experience level. “This was a triple win for MRC, WSU, and, of course, Jessalin,” he noted.

Strait, who is also an alumnus, has struggled with chronic health issues since she was involved in a car accident in her 20s, and has had a long-standing relationship with MRC.

“I have been working with Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission throughout my time [at Worcester State],” said Strait. “The organization as a whole was wonderful to work with.” She said that, when she was a student, “they made sure to call me before the start of each semester to make sure I was all set for the school year.”

Later, when Ellen Spencer of MRC was working with Strait on her career development, she told her about a job that was being offered at WSU in the Disability Services Office. Strait jumped at the chance.

“Being a WSU alum, it was great to be able to go back to the place that I loved so much,” she said. “I’m getting paid to give back, but I feel like I’m still giving back.”

GWERC is a public-private partnership that is facilitated by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), which aims to make a difference in the lives of their consumers,​ and by extension, the entire community. Past recipients of the Employer Award include Charter Communications, UMass Memorial Healthcare, Y.W.C.A. of Central Massachusetts, and College of the Holy Cross.

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