Overcoming Adversity to Follow Her Dreams

Erica Whorley photo

Ft. Lauderdale, FL Erica Whorley lives life to the fullest and for good reason. She has reached her goal of having a successful career in the medical field and is forever thankful for the assistance she received from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).

Erica prides herself on not getting angry or sweating the small stuff when she teaches classes at Medvance School. She lives this way because her entire world was almost taken away in the blink of an eye.

It was February 2006 when another driver t-boned Erica as they traveled Fort Pierce county roads. After medics airlifted her to St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach, doctors determined the accident caused brain damage and hearing loss. The collision also crushed her left arm and leg. Erica had recently been accepted into a training program to become a physician's assistant, but she couldn't walk and was emotionally deflated. Her goals seemed unreachable.

While Erica was connected to machines in her parents' Fort Lauderdale home, she began services with VR. Erica worked with VR Counselor Jane Haughian, who provided her with psychological support, as well as assistance with Medicaid paperwork. Jane sensed a strong spirit within Erica. "She was a sweet, sweet person - a fighter. She has a strong work ethic, and she wasn't willing to give up her dream of working in the medical field," says Jane.

Erica believes the psychological support helped motivate her during a very dark time. "If I got depressed, Jane would always sit down and give me a lecture or a story and say 'listen, you have to get back, remember all this stuff you said you want to do? You have to stay focused.'"

Jane helped Erica develop a practical blueprint so that she could follow her dreams. She assessed Erica's skills and advised her that teaching could be a great career path. Erica had never given teaching much thought, but trusted Jane's expertise. It paid off, and Erica now enjoys using her skills to better the lives of future medical professionals.

Erica's turnaround is nothing short of remarkable. She teaches students studying to become medical assistants. Erica is also the mother of a beautiful 15 month old girl. "Anything is possible, and I thank God for VR services, because I can honestly tell you, I don't know what I would have done without them."

Florida's Vocational Rehabilitation program is committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America's workforce. Our employer-focused website, FLJobConnections.com, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 111 offices across Florida, and last year helped 3,874 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org.