Commissioner Heidi Reed from the state Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing recently visited the Haverhill campus of Northern Essex Community College to honor a student who participated in the commission’s summer Transition to Work Program.
This program is made possible through a federal grant and a partnership between the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The program is designed to increase deaf and hard of hearing students’ exposure to the workplace, and help them gain new skills and become marketable professionals. The program provided financial stipends to the student interns as well as job coaching. The program was open to high school and college students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Annie Baez, who is deaf, spent up to 20 hours each week working in NECC’s business office, where she performed a variety of administrative duties.
“I loved it,” said Baez, an NECC accounting and business transfer major. “It really helped me understand and apply what I am learning in the classroom. I realized I really like working with numbers.”
“She loved working in the business office and we loved having her,” said Matilda “Tilly” DelVecchio, NECC controller. “I learned from working with Annie that there are no limitations as to what she can do. Her performance was most exceptional. She was both efficient and pleasant to work with.”
Baez, a Boston resident, was born in the Dominican Republic. She enrolled at NECC, she said, because of the quality of services for deaf and hard of hearing students as well as the peer group on campus.
Red said the partnership is about increasing the accessibility of employment for the deaf and hard of hearing.
The deaf and hard of hearing students who participate in Transition to Work summer internships are gaining skills to be vital members of the future workforce in Massachusetts, said Kathy Vesey, director of the Gallaudet University Regional Center at Northern Essex Community College.
Since the program was created three years ago, 150 students have participated, Reed said. Baez was one of 38 students selected from more than 100 who applied for this summer’s internships. These students have experienced a wide range of jobs, from landscaping to school programs to office work.