Massachusetts Commission for the Blind Honors Summer Interns and Employers at UMass Boston
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) today celebrated its ninth year of providing college and high school students who are legally blind with summer internships throughout the Commonwealth. This summer, the program also included MCB consumers who are re-entering the workforce. The ceremony, held today at the University of Massachusetts Boston, honored 63 interns and their host employers.
More than 200 people came out to celebrate and acknowledge students' success. This summer, interns spent eight weeks gaining experience working for colleges and universities, private and public companies, law enforcement agencies and elected officials.
"The MCB partnership with employers is a wonderful opportunity to connect a diverse group of talented people with work environments across sectors," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. "Through this program, 63 interns who are legally blind were able to have meaningful work experiences that will have an impact on whatever professional paths they choose."
"I commend MCB on nine years of a highly successful and innovative internship program," said Executive Office of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Christine Griffin. "The program is an investment in the future of legally blind residents. By partnering MCB clients with employers, they have an opportunity to develop critical job skills and work experience that will position them to become future leaders of the Commonwealth."
"The MCB Internship program provides an opportunity for individuals who are blind to have a real work experience and to become significant contributors in the workforce," said MCB Commissioner Janet LaBreck. "We are committed to partnering with employers to break down barriers that limit success and economic self-sufficiency."
Dr. Amy Bower, a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution delivered an inspirational keynote address at the ceremony. Through an outreach program called Ocean InSight, Dr. Bower is hoping to engage the visually impaired and students who are blind in careers in the geosciences.
"We are thrilled to be a partner with MCB. Our organization and our staff have benefited significantly by participating in the MCB's Internship Program," said Brian MacDonald, President of National Braille Press. "It has been a great experience for us and it allowed the intern to explore the many different aspects of our organization."
The audience also heard from Matthew Sweeney, a junior at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, who recently completed his internship with the Boston Police Department (BPD).
"Having the chance to do real investigative work with BPD is something I will treasure as I explore opportunities in the criminal justice field," said Matthew Sweeney.
MCB Commissioner Janet LaBreck presented certificates of appreciation to each student and their employer. Commissioner LaBreck and The Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston's President and CEO Joshua Kraft also presented the third "Reach for the Stars Leadership Award" to four interns who received a $1,000 award for their education. These awards recognize the outstanding accomplishments and potential of these MCB interns.
Recipients of the 2012 Reach for the Stars Leadership Awards
- Mary Beth Galliher, Pittsfield
- Bhavi Parikh, Holbrook
- Joshua Pearson, Barre
- Tim Potter, Pittsfield
The Summer Internship Program offers students who are legally blind the opportunity to develop professional skills in work environments that relate to their educational pursuits. The program also provides education to employers throughout the state about people with disabilities, illustrating how they demonstrate exactly the same skills as their other employees.
The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, an agency of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, provides the highest quality rehabilitation and social services to blind individuals, leading to independence and full community participation. MCB accomplishes this critical mission by working in partnership with consumers who are legally blind, families, community agencies, health care providers, and employers.
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