For the Spanish language version of this success story please read: Alonzo se gradúa con un empleo a tiempo completo.
Alonzo Muñoz, 19, achieved the ideal: he graduated from school with full-time, paid employment.
Alonzo was a student at Hood River Valley High school, which participates in the Youth Transition Program (YTP). YTP operates as a partnership between Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), the University of Oregon's College of Education, and local Oregon school districts.
The purpose of the program is to prepare youth with disabilities for employment or post-secondary education or training.
Alonzo worked with transition specialist Cindy Posey while in school. He graduated in 2014. Alonzo is not in ODDS services; however he experiences disabilities that significantly impact his short term and long-term memory.
"As part of our YTP program, students do research on three career goals," she said. "He had work experiences at a coffee shop at the hospital. Once we got him working, I realized what a great worker he is."
Cindy said Alonzo struggled with all academic work, and is a "really quiet kid." Without doing career exploration, it would have been difficult to know what kind of job might fit Alonzo.
"It came down to construction," Alonzo said. "I prefer something physical, where I work with my hands. Something with less talking and more activity."
Cindy worked with VR counselor Andrea Rogers to set up a meeting with Cameron Curtis, owner of successful local home building company Curtis Homes. During the last nine weeks of Alonzo's time at high school, Cindy placed him in an internship at Curtis Homes.
"What I was excited about was that Alonzo was excited about the job," Cameron said. "A lot of the younger generation doesn't want to work hard and doesn't want to work with their hands."
With Alonzo, Cameron said he got a committed employee.
"He gets along with everyone and he outworks just about everyone," Cameron said.
The starting wage at Curtis Homes is $11 an hour. After a few months on the job after graduating high school, Alonzo was promoted to full-time and now earns $12 an hour.
"I've been learning on the job," Alonzo said. "I like when we're super busy and time just flies. Every day I learn something new."
Alonzo has worked on building more than six homes in Hood River. Curtis Homes constructs many custom homes in the area. Alonzo works on a bit of everything, from framing the house to installing finish work.
Alonzo lives with his family in the nearby town of Odell. He just saved up enough money to buy a car to drive to work each day.
"I would love to have this type of result every day," said VR counselor Andrea Rogers. "There is as much work as he wants, he is building skills, and earning a living. That's really the ideal of what we want to achieve."
View a photo slideshow of Alonzo at work.