A Special Graduation Day
FT. LAUDERDALE, FL – Graduation is a special time for every hard-working student, but for Megan Menconi, graduating from Florida International University on August 13 means more than embarking on a new chapter in her life. It means starting on a career path she’s excited about, and not letting her disability dictate what she can and cannot do.
Megan was born deaf in her left ear with accelerated hearing loss in her right; however, she never used her disability as an excuse. “She is a very motivated person and goal oriented,” says Lucia Mavrakis, Megan’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor. VR provided Megan with hearing aids and paid her college tuition. “I was on cloud nine,” says Megan when she heard the news. “I had wanted to go back and finish my degree for a long time.”
Thankful for the second chance VR gave her, Megan worked hard in school. “She’s a very good student,” says Lucia. “She gets very good grades.” While attending school, Megan worked part time as a receptionist for a law firm, where she developed an interest in the legal field. When she took a job at Leslie & McLaughlin, LLP, her new bosses saw her potential and immediately put Megan into a paralegal program. “She’s phenomenal, we absolutely adore her,” says Megan’s supervisor, Jody Leslie of Leslie & McLaughlin, LLP.
As a paralegal, Megan answers client phone calls, handles the mail, drafts legal pleadings and letters, coordinates hearings with the court, and makes sure the discovery is properly documented and given to opposing counsel. “She’s great at what she does,” says Jody. “She personable, efficient, and an intricate part of our office. She really keeps us going.”
Now, equipped with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, Megan says it was her experience with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) that helped her find the drive to succeed that she never knew she had. “I have a college degree!” she says. “Without VR, I wouldn’t be working in this job and looking to the future.” Megan hopes to continue with the firm and, eventually, she would like to combine her degree in public relations with her law experience and one day open her own PR firm specializing in media law.
Megan says that walking across the stage when she graduates will be a bittersweet moment, but the college experience was also a learning process that taught her about life and herself. “I am proud of myself to be able to hold down a full-time job, go to school, and bring home good grades,” says Megan, who credits VR for helping her reach this successful moment. “Sometimes you just have to focus on the path ahead, and you’ll get there.”
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 5,018 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.