Cassandra Brown stood confidently behind the podium in the center of the banquet room and, with the poise and ease of a seasoned professional speaker, described her first meeting with a CareLink Career Specialist.
“She was very kind, very patient, and I thought, ‘Hmm, I talk a lot,’” she recalled with a smile. “And as we began talking, I realized that she talked a lot, too! Then, as we talked and talked, we kind of just connected. That right there was a bond that made me say, ‘I’m safe here. I’m okay.’”
Cassandra, whose penchant for talking has made her an eloquent and compelling speaker, was one of four speechmakers at an October 19 breakfast event, held at The Inn at Swarthmore to kick off CareLink’s 60th year and mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Before seeking supported employment and education services from CareLink, Cassandra had suffered a traumatic brain injury.
“At the time, my life was all over the place,” Cassandra explained. “I had a problem with recall and memory, and one of my fears was getting back into the classroom, but we began to set goals. One of my goals was to continue taking classes and finish school. We worked on techniques to memorize words, how to study, and to just go and give it my best. Every time I went into the Career Services office, there was just more positivity, more encouragement. I got more comfortable and I began to think, ‘You know, I think I can do this.’”
Cassandra has since earned an associate’s degree in general studies from Delaware Community College, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work.
As she approached the end of her remarks, Cassandra motioned to a friendly face near the back of the banquet room. “Ketsia [Cherubin] is excellent,” she told the audience of more than 70. “She is patient and excellent with employment, which is one thing I struggled with while having a disability. Even when I got a job and I was at work, sometimes I just felt like I was in a shell. But I had friends at CareLink, so after work, I’d go to share group and tell everybody about my day. They’d have something say, something they could relate to my experience, and we’d bond.”
“I was reading one of the pamphlets on the tables that say, ‘CareLink is dedicated to helping people with disabilities,’ and that’s the truth,” Cassandra continued. “They’re wonderful career specialists. I love that office and I’m there a lot. It’s like a home. I’m grateful to the program and I’m grateful to be here.”