Celebrating our Fall 2021 Starkloff Career Academy Graduates

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Congratulations to our Fall 2021 Starkloff Career Academy graduates! Feel free to connect with our graduates on LinkedIn or email Jason Hartsfield at jhartsfield@starkloff.org.


Sierra Baker

My goal is to be an Administrative Professional who works for the state or Federal Government.  There were quite a few things I got out of the class.  I learned important and useful guidelines for writing a resume, handling an interview, and successfully navigating the job search process in general.  I learned about valuable resources for finding opportunities like the Inclusively website, and companies that want to give the differently abled a chance as long as they meet qualifications.  I’m grateful that if I try and do my part Starkloff can be a valuable part of my support system.


Lauren Bookatz

My professional background is special education and social services in the vocational rehabilitation realm. I taught for seven years and have used this experience to branch out into student engagement and outreach. My goal is to utilize my teaching skills to educate others about how to care for themselves with knowledge of their current health status, thus preventing disease. In the Starkloff Career Academy, I have learned that asking for accommodations is not a privilege but a right, and don’t be afraid to take care of your workplace needs.


Valerie Chau

Dedicated, energetic, creative educator and programmer with 19 years of college and 6 years of high school teaching experience plus an equivalent amount of programming experience, seeking a challenging position using statistics and programming techniques.


Christopher Gaines

I have a background as a program analyst and technical writer in both the public and private sector. My career goal is ultimately to find employment as a full-time technical writer in the federal government. As a result of my time in this class, Starkloff Disability Institute and its affiliates afforded me a very nuanced, deep, and genuine look at what it means to be a person with a disability seeking employment. Thank you so much for the guidance and understanding that will make me a more marketable employee in the future.


Hebatulla Issa

I’m a Managing Editor, Content Strategist, and DEI Language Inclusion Specialist with more than 12 years of experience in media and communications. My career goals include creating space for new writers from marginalized and underserved populations, directing an Editorial Department, and racing Pinky in the Brain in a race to take over the world. Aside from the useful and practical skills I gained in practicing my elevator pitch and interview responses, the best part of this class is the authentic camaraderie and support system that has flourished amongst my classmates.


Philip Linniger

I am a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Informatics. Information technology is the fabric of our everyday life and it is important that is always working. I am passionate about assisting others with computer problems making people’s life easier. My involvement in chess has honed my analytical and problem solving skills. I am eager to learn more and I apply myself in what I work in.


Joey Merino

I have skills in Management Relay Products and Services, and my career goal is to become a Full Stack Developer – MERN Stack with inclusion and accessibility in mind. At Starkloff Career Academy, I gained more confidence in myself as a disabled individual. I learned about new approaches to the job market. I feel that networking through company representatives was one of the key impact points of this career course. Whether we obtain a job or not, we have already empowered ourselves and companies that can make hiring better in the future for people with disabilities.


Anisa Proda

Diversity and Inclusion practitioner with a decade of experience training organizations in the areas of D&I and organizational accessibility. Expertise in creating equitable environments where all employees are supported with the tools they need to succeed. Notable impacts helping businesses in emerging countries to reshape their corporate social responsibility policies to be inclusive of historically underrepresented populations and increase diversity in their workforces.


Danielle Stephens

My professional background is that I am a recent college graduate who majored in family and child sciences with minors in social work and education.  My career goal is to become a UX accessibility tester.  I also have aspirations of working on a political campaign as a digital organizer.  What I have gotten the most out of this class are the friendships that I have made with the other candidates. I’ve also learned how to make my professional brand more marketable to employers.


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