M. Cristina Fernandez

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Currently, I am employed as career resource specialist at Work Opportunities Unlimited, where I work with adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities and support them on the path to employment. This starts with identifying each person's goals and career paths, teaching vocational skills, job developing, skill marketing, task analysis, all the way through to on site job supports. I act as a liaison between the employee and employer to facilitate an effective working relationship. It is a tough job but is very rewarding. I really enjoy working with the people I support, and they are a big source of inspiration to me.

My educational background in community social psychology has been paramount to my success at my job, as it is a field that focuses on the complex relationships between an individual and her/his environment and uses this knowledge to empower or otherwise better the lives of historically under served social groups. This background is well suited for a profession in an organization that aims to meet the needs of such a population - in this case, adults with disabilities. Furthermore, I have seven years of customer service experience under my belt. At both my previous job and recent online courses, I have completed leadership training programs that have equipped me with the skills to work with people on a professional level: understand their situations, determine their needs, and then meet their needs efficiently. In retail management, my focus was on building rapport with our guests in order to provide consistently positive customer experiences, which, in turn boosted profits. In addition, I gained supervisory and operational/administrative experience, which have helped me demonstrate leadership skills at my current workplace.

So why do I do what I do?

I recall an instance when I was 19 and very naive but optimistic about my future. I sat down with someone who was supposed to offer me academic and vocational counseling. Instead, I was torn down for not being good enough or smart enough to enter into the field I was passionate about at the time. I had wanted to work in a medical lab performing research, but I wanted some guidance as to what specifically would be solid choices to make. At that age, I was keenly aware that I was very young and had no experience in the "real world", so I relied on people I felt were more experienced and wise. Unfortunately, this particular person succeeded only in making me feel as though I was worthless, and that my goal was out of reach. I was on a path to graduate college early (which I ultimately did), and my grades were very high. I was extremely studious and couldn't care less about parties, nightclubs, and all of that. I volunteered on my free time. The idea that I "wasn't good enough" never crossed my mind, and I was devastated. I immediately shifted my focus on community psychology, even though my peers scoffed at it as "not real science". In the end, I am glad that I ended up working in a field that benefits my community, but I never forgot the experience that day. My dream job is to be exactly the opposite of that vocational counselor - I will never tell someone they "can't" do something, or that they'll never achieve their dreams, or that they aren't good enough to be whatever-it-is they want to be. One day, I hope to work in academia so I can meet other young, naive, optimistic people who trust the opinions of people they think are older and wiser and support them as they start their journeys on the paths that they choose.

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful people”. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and human, and these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it. (David Orr)

Predictive Indices and Assessments

If anyone is interested, here are a few links to Criteria Corp assessments that I have taken in August 2015. I tested highly in areas such as patience, leadership, goal-orientation, cooperativeness, creativity, motivated, commitment, and self confidence. My results are available for download.

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