Starkloff Career Academy Graduation

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Graduates of our Fall 2017 Starkloff Career Academy Capstone Course celebrated their commencement on November 9th at the Brentwood Recreation Center in Brentwood, Missouri. They were joined by their friends, family, special guests, Starkloff Disability Institute board members and their fellow Starkloff Career Academy alumni.  

Ron Mauer, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Express Scripts, served as Commencement Speaker.  Ron shared his personal story as a person who uses a wheelchair who has made it successfully through college and the corporate world.  

Each graduate participated in 50 hours of classes on resume writing, effective job searching, networking, job interviewing, disability disclosure planning, negotiating job offers, requesting reasonable accommodations, utilizing social media and more. Highlights included one-on-one training opportunities with hiring professionals from Wells Fargo Advisors, Nestle Purina and Ameren; and guest lecturers from the Dale Carnegie Institute and the State of Missouri. 

Starkloff’s own Lori Becker, Director of Development and Communications, and Meg Geiger, Development Associate, volunteered to teach classes on contract negotiation and the how-to’s of using Social Media to build a network. 

This graduation marked the completion of Starkloff Career Academy’s 10th Capstone Course. Susan Menhard, Director of the Career Academy, celebrated alongside her students. Susan has a Masters in Social Work as well as experience creating and teaching college-level courses.  Her personal insight as a woman with a disability is evident in the course structure.  

“We strive to make sure our candidates understand and have the confidence to sell their strengths,” Susan says. “As job seekers with disabilities, we want them to lead the conversation on what they are capable of and show the recruiters and hiring managers that their experience with disability can bring highly valued insights and experiences to the company.” 

Jason Hartsfield, Career Academy Associate and co-instructor, has an MSW from George W. Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. Jason began his career at Starkloff in 2016 but has been a regular volunteer since graduating the Capstone Course in 2013. Jason has brought strong organizational skills to the course, including writing the Capstone Course Workbook. 

“This is an incredibly strong group of candidates,” Jason says. “Because of the length and nature of the course, two or three candidates may drop out along the way. That all our candidates graduated says volumes about their commitment, perseverance and integrity. We ask a lot of them and challenge them throughout the course because that is what the employer is going to do.” 

“As a graduate, I know how much work, time and effort is required by this program,” Mistress of Ceremonies Jenny Garofalo says. Jenny graduated from the Spring 2017 Capstone Course and has a Bachelors in Business Administration from Webster University. “It is not just ‘homework.’ It is also learning to really change perceptions.” 

Laura Soucy served as the Class of Fall 2017 Class Speaker. She shared important message with her fellow graduates: “This class has taught me that having a disability can be strength instead of a weakness and should not hinder your job search.  Even though we have learned the tricks, we need to remember to use them; and when we are in a stressful situation, just remember that recruiters are people to.” 

Starkloff would like to thank all of our aforementioned partner companies for their ongoing participation. This course wouldn’t be possible without their willingness to candidly share personal insights and experiences hiring and managing people.  

The Starkloff Career Academy Fall 2017 Capstone Course graduates are: Starkloff Career Academy Graduation 

Steve Ferris has a Bachelor’s in IT and Business Administration with a Marketing emphasis and over 2 decades of sales, IT, logistics and marketing experience in both local and national territories. Steve is seeking to further his career in one of these areas.   

Cari Ford has a Bachelor’s in Social Work and 7 years of experience in home health care. Cari would like to become a case manager. 

James (Jim) Jordan has over a decade of data management and claims processing particularly in the medical industry. He is looking for a career in data management or auditing. 

Kim Killian has 2 decades of experience in finance and accounting including financing department management as well as 10 years of experience in event planning and public speaking. Kim would like to return to a career in finance but is also very interested in full-time event planning or development positions. 

Ty Krewson will graduate in December from the UMSL/Wash U Joint Engineering Program with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. Ty is currently applying for internships in mechanical engineering. 

Joshua Lewis has a Master’s in Legal Studies from Webster University. He is a licensed private investigator, certified paralegal, teaches online courses to veterans and currently sits on the Kirkwood Commission on Human Rights. Josh would like to further his paralegal career but is also interested in opportunities in advocacy. 

Dora Phillips will graduate from Webster University in December with dual Master’s degrees in Human Resource Management and Human Resource Development. Dora is a United States Air Force Veteran and ran her own daycare center for 10 years.  Now she seeks to begin a career in human resources with a major company. 

Robert Rose has a Bachelor’s in Computer Sciences from the University of Missouri at Columbia. He also has 12 years of experience as a database manager and would like to continue his career in that field. 

Michael Stottshas a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from UMSL. For over 20 years, he has worked as a computer technician and consultant specializing in software engineering and web design. Today, Michael is seeking full-time positions in front-end web development.  

Laura Soucy graduated from Webster University with a Master’s in Human Resource Management while taking the course. Laura was a store manager for 16 years and served as Class Speaker. Laura is also seeking positions in human resources. 

Starkloff’s Capstone Course is sending out into the world an empowered group of professionals with disabilities who will do amazing things and be role models for others.  Congratulations to all the Fall 2017 Career Academy graduates! 

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