31 Days of SMA: Employment and SMA

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by Ryan Golley |

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31 Days of SMA⁣⠀ To start off SMA Awareness Month, we have Jaclyn Greenwood speaking on employment and SMA:⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ If you had asked me as a young child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would probably have said a train conductor, ballerina, or famous singer, depending on the day. Although I was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2, my dreams were those of a typical kid. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Steadily, as I got older, my career dreams evolved. I dreamed of finding a career that I could excel at and enjoy. Eventually I found that I wanted to pursue a degree in genetic counseling. I earned my master's of science degree in genetic counseling in 2012, and I am a board certified genetic counselor. I am fortunate to work in a field and job that highlights my interest and skills. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Unfortunately, searching for a job with a disability can be challenging. During interviews it often feels like the first thing potential employers see is the wheelchair, and they automatically question your abilities. I was fortunate, because shortly after I completed my masters, there was an opening at one of my previous training sites. They were familiar with my strengths and wanted me to be a part of their team. Ever since then, I have been working full-time as a prenatal screening coordinator for the California Department of Public Health.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Before taking on full-time employment, I had many concerns. Could I physically handle a full work day and keep up with the fast paced work environment? Would my employer understand my physical limitations and work with me on accommodations? Would I have sufficient medical coverage to maintain my health? However, I knew other people in the SMA community that had successfully navigated careers, and their examples motivated me. And I learned the answers to all of those questions is yes, it’s possible!⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ This isn’t to say working with a disability is without its obstacles; for me, the personal reward it provides is well worth the effort. My career gives me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of independence. Never let others or yourself underestimate your potential, and always encourage kids to work hard and dream big regardless of their abilities.

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