Juan Carlos Makes a Difference in Young Peoples’ Lives
Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Juan Carlos Morales was told by doctors that he wouldn’t live past his teenage years. But Juan, who has Muscular Dystrophy, proved them all wrong. He turns 30 next year and has a thriving career as a psychologist working with at risk teenagers. "Life has a purpose and I need to fulfill mine," he said.
Juan was referred to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) when he was a senior in high school. VR helps people with disabilities get or keep a job. He met with VR Counselor Julie Emerson, who helped him plan for his future. Having dreamed of becoming a rap artist since high school, VR paid Juan’s tuition to Broward Community College so he could train as a recording engineer.
Along the way, he changed his mind and decided his long-term goal was to help others. He transferred to Florida International University (FIU) where, with help from VR, he completed his bachelor's degree in Psychology. He continued at FIU on his own dime and received his master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Juan was honored to be nominated by the president of FIU as a "Worlds Ahead Graduate" which is presented for outstanding achievement and great dreams for the future.
It was during an internship for school that Juan first worked with adolescents and discovered that he loved the way they opened up to him. He knew it was where he belonged. Juan now works at the Regis House, a CARF-accredited facility that works with at-risk teenagers with drug and behavioral problems. He provides group and individual therapy, and also prepares reports for court hearings. "I love it and want to do more of it," Juan said. "I feel that life has guided me here."
Juan is a private life coach. Most of his customers are adolescents and recommended by word of mouth. He also serves as the local ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and makes an appearance each year during their annual telethon. In his spare time, he attends numerous events and is a motivational speaker to firefighters. He balances his work and social life well, all while maintaining a positive attitude. He is also a devoted Miami Heat fan.
VR provided Juan with support for his bachelor’s degree and vehicle modifications. Without the support of VR and his counselor, he wouldn’t be where he is today. "Julie is an awesome angel who makes things work out," he said.
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 80 offices across Florida, and last year helped 6,523 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.