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Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

ORC - Serving All Oklahomans with Disabilities

2016-2017 Success Stories

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council's new operational year began on October 1st, 2016. You can also take a look at last year's success stories here.

DRS Client: Charles

Disability: Diabetic and Dyslexia

Charles and his wife

Counseling and Guidance; Information and Referral Services; Uniforms; Tools; College Training; Books; Medical Devices

The Story:
Charles is currently employed at Northeastern Health Services as a 1st year resident in Tahlequah, OK. He graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Biology from Cameron University in Lawton, OK. He will graduate on May 13th, 2017 from OSU-CHS in Tulsa with his Doctorate in Osteopathy. “DRS helped me meet my educational goals, which allowed me to match into the Family Medicine Program in Tahlequah after doing clinical rotations in family medicine.” 
“DRS has also helped me overcome financial barriers to education, alerting me to resources that are available for people with dyslexia and help obtaining medical supplies.” 
Charles has a huge supporter, his wife, also pictured. He states “through education, I was able to reach my goal of becoming a Doctor of Osteopathy. I will be able to support my family financially and give back to the underserved in Oklahoma by practicing in rural areas.”

DRS Client: Cheryl

Disability: Legally Blind -- Retinal Detachment, not able to be restored


Counseling and Guidance; College Training; ABLE Training, Physical Restoration (glasses, sunglasses and rolling, folding cane), Adaptive Equipment (after shock headset, adaptive accessories for kitchen, labeler, braille machine, color identifier); Job Readiness Training; Job Placement; Assistive Technology (Laptop with JAWS and Zoom text); Information and Referral Services

The Story:

Cheryl is working as a Specialist of the Blind for Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) in the Visual Services Division and loves her job. She started with DRS 2 years ago with Judy Booklover and then most recently Shirota Hearne as her Visual Services Counselors. She has also been assisted by Deborah Trout (Orientation and Mobility) and Pam Holloway (encouraged Cheryl to attend ABLE Training). A barrier that she feels that she has overcome from being employed at DRS and having been a client is that she gets to see visually impaired people employed. She loves having all of the exciting new technology available to enable her reading and to share this information with others.

Cheryl will graduate in May 2018 from Langston University in OKC with her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling and Visual Rehabilitation Teaching. She has been employed by DRS Visual Services Division since December 28, 2016.

Cheryl enthusiastically says, “Elaine Boykin played a large role in where I am today and she fought for me to get my Masters. I ended up in her classes and then ended up doing a practicum at DRS and then, I was hired. She states “I credit my success to Elaine as she pushed me and has been a great mentor.”

DRS Client: Bruce

Disability: Hard of Hearing – 90% deaf without hearing aids


Counseling and Guidance; On The Job Training; Transportation (1 month bus pass); Vocational Evaluation; Uniforms; Adaptive Equipment (hearing aids); Job Readiness Training; Supported Employment; Information and Referral Services

The Story:
Bruce is very excited to be a success story for the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). Jill Oliver from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit at DRS assisted Bruce in his success and Jeff Morton at Dale Rogers Training Center helped Bruce find a job that fit his skillset. Bruce has had many years’ experience as a Certified Nursing Assistant, but could not find that job in, or around, the OKC area. Dale Rogers Training Center spent time assisting Bruce with his resumé and finding a different job suitable for him. Jeff served as Bruce’s job coach while he was at Dale Rogers Training Center. Bruce is now employed at OU Medical Center as a Housekeeper and has been there for 19 months. He is doing well and loves his job. Bruce stated, “Dale Rogers held my hand through the whole process.”
Bruce states that one of the barriers he overcame was “a lot of people wouldn’t hire me because of my barriers with hearing and I am so grateful for the chance the OU Medical Center provided me as well as the push that Dale Rogers and DRS gave me.” During his time at DRS, he received community resource referrals from Dale Rogers, DHS and Sally Quillian. Bruce states “my life is better, I feel better about myself in general. I was getting depressed and now I have more money to do things I want to do. I am independent and that is the most important thing to me. And, I have given up my Social Security Disability and I am doing great.” 

DRS Client: Bonnie

Disability: Depression and Anxiety


Counseling and Guidance; Training; Occupational Training; Information and Referral Services

The Story:
Bonnie received assistance from the Cherokee National Vocational Rehabilitation (CNVR) Program with the cost of education, providing guidance and counseling, giving encouragement and "helping believe in myself". She says, "I had barriers to employment such as instability, low self-esteem, and financial dependence on my husband, state programs, tribal programs and limited work skills." 

"CNVR and DRS worked together in paying for my education. Claremore Indian Hospital and Indian Health Services provided me with an internship. I also received assistance from the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee Nation Day work Program." Bonnie continues “I am employed in the career I trained for, which is mammography. I am self-sufficient financially, emotionally and physically stable, have a better home life. I am working towards home ownership and working in a job that I love.”  Bonnie is currently employed through Bailey Medical Center in Owasso. 

DRS Client: Harvey

Disability: Paraplegic (C6-7)


Counseling and Guidance; Adaptive Equipment; Information and Referral Services

The Story:
Harvey was injured in an automobile accident in 1983 at the age of 34. As you can imagine, the loss of mobility at that age can be a challenging obstacle to overcome. Harvey didn’t give up on life and went on to obtain his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology.     
Harvey states, “I was able to maintain my position with help and by receiving a wheelchair. And, I was able to get to, and from, work independently.”  
“I am now able to get out more and be more mobile.” The Choctaw Nation Vocational Rehabilitation (CNVR) program was able to assist Harvey with the purchase of a new wheelchair, which allowed him to remain employed as a Case Manager with the Choctaw Nation Housing Authority in Hugo, OK.  

DRS Client: Manuel aka "Fabian"

Disability: Cerebral Palsy


Counseling and Guidance; Adaptive Equipment; Drivers Training; Transportation; Clothing; Vocational Evaluation; Physical Restoration; Telecommunications; Vehicle Modifications; House Modifications; New Wheelchair; Job Readiness Training; Supported Employment; Assessment; Assistive Technology through ABLE Tech; Loan Program through ABLE Tech; Information and Referral Services; Workforce; DHS; Community Rehab Providers; Social Security; Driving Ambition, Inc. Drivers Training; Newby Vance; Hanger Prosthetics; Dan Lutz Drivers Training; Access United

The Story:
Fabian started with DRS as a junior in High School with Charles Nichols as his counselor.  He was assisted with transition services and modifications to his home. After Charles, Donna DeSalvo assisted with getting Embark services where he could utilize transportation. She helped with a job coach and Metro-Tech while he worked at summer school. Fabian states that “I then sat at home until I received a call from a new counselor, Renee Sansom, from the Hispanic Community Outreach Program. Renee helped me with getting my vehicle modified to start driving, she helped me get a new wheelchair and to get in contact with Galt Foundation.  I worked with Galt for 2 ½ years until I got hired, August 2016. Kevin is now my newest counselor, who replaced Renee and he provided me constant counseling and guidance with my new position. Kevin helped me get things for my wheelchair and with a seating evaluations for different cushioning for the chair that I currently use. The end result is that I am employed after 15 years of services and ups and downs with DRS.”
“DRS helped me a lot. They got me more money. I am independent. I drive myself to, and from, work. I pay my own bills. DRS has given me self-worth. I am very grateful for DRS and their dedication. If it wasn’t for DRS, I wouldn’t be here. My mantra is 'Stay Positive and yes, you can!!'”

DRS Client: Mark

Disability: Juvenile Rhematoid Arthritis


Counseling and Guidance; Information and Referral Services; Occupational Training

The Story:
Mark was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when he was 6 years old and it took a big toll on his health. As a young adult he dedicated his life to learn all aspects of farm and ranch management but when he was in his late 20’s, he had farming accident that severely injured his back. After his accident he decided to change careers and with the aid and guidance provided by the Chickasaw Nation Vocational Rehabilitation Program he was able to obtain his Bachelor’s degree from East Central University. He is currently employed at a substance abuse treatment facility in Southeastern Oklahoma with his CADC-C certification and will soon acquire his HRCM II certification.
Mark states, “Without Chickasaw Nation Vocational Rehabilitation, my dream would have been, to be certain, only dust in the wind, Thank you.” 

DRS Client: Misty

Disability: Paraplegic (C6-7)


Counseling and Guidance; Employment and Retention Services; Information and Referral Services

The Story: Misty came to the Chickasaw Nation Vocational Rehabilitation Department recently after receiving a left, below the knee, amputation due to diabetes. In October 2015, Misty developed the same condition (Charcot foot) on her right foot and spent several months in a wheelchair.  She was prescribed a CROW boot. She received services that allowed her to get the boot and continue working.

DRS Client: Micha

Disability: Down Syndrome


Counseling and Guidance; Job Readiness Training; Job Placement; Information and Referral

The Story:
Micah was born with Down Syndrome. He applied for services after he graduated from high school and together with his counselor and the Chickasaw Nation Child Development Center they created a position in which Micah is responsible for cleaning the center’s large amount of laundry. Micha worked with job coaches for months to learn his new job and he is able to do his job on his own each day.
Micah states “I like my job. I have made a lot of friends”

DRS Client: Rachel

Disability: Hearing Loss


Counseling and Guidance; Occupational Training; Information and Referral Services

The Story:

Rachel is a 21 year old citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. She came to the Chickasaw Nation Vocational Rehabilitation (CNVR) program requesting training for a career that would work with her hearing disability. Rachel went to school to be a Dental Assistant. She now works for the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center in the Dental Clinic. She states that she is very happy where she works and loves helping other Chickasaw citizens. She believes that CNVR gave her the boost she needed to follow her passion and achieve her goals. 

DRS Client:


Disability: Macular Degeneration; Cataracts; Glaucoma; Diabetes


Counseling and Guidance; Information and Referral; Adaptive Equipment; VS Rehab Teacher; Audiologist; Senior Citizens Hearing aid program from the School for the Deaf

The Story:
Wanda was diagnosed with Macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetes about 13 years ago. Two and a half years ago, she had a stroke that affected her right side. In addition to her own health issues, her husband passed away. She has received services from Ani Severtsen from Visual Services. With Ani’s assistance, she received a talking clock, phones, microphones and buttons for appliances in the kitchen.  With the help of Medicaid, she has received grab bars and a shower chair. Wanda is a homemaker and received independent living skills, kitchen skills, cooking skills and she continues to learn different skills in the kitchen. She loves to bake and cook and has enjoyed learning how to cook independently. She utilizes the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to listen to books on tape. She absolutely enjoys this pasttime and loves her books.
Wanda states “My daughter Diana’s life has improved because I have supper ready for her when she gets home. I don’t get depressed anymore and, with the help of Ani, I have a better outlook about being blind.”
"Ani made it safer for me and now I know my limitations. The placement of things is very important and I am living a safer life and am able to speak out about my disability and what my needs are.”