Modeling Success for People with Disabilities

Stephanie Perkins photo

Miami, FL – Stephanie Perkins, who has Down syndrome, has a dream, and she’s determined to make it come true. “My dream is to become a famous model,” she says. “I model at the mall and competed in the Model of the Year competition in New York City. I also wish to be on TV. I want to make people aware of people with disabilities because we’re part of the community.”

Her Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor, Erline Exume, is confident she can do it. “You can’t put any limitations on her. She wants to do it all. That’s what makes you want to work with her. She doesn’t see herself as someone with a disability, so you can’t see her that way either.” But first, Stephanie wanted to get a job and become more independent.

Stephanie came to VR while she was still in high school. VR helps people with disabilities get or keep a job, and one of its main programs is the school to work transition program, transitioning young people from high school to the working world.

“She was so determined, persistent, and willing to find a job that you had to feel the same way too to keep up with her,” Erline explains. In other words, Stephanie doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Erline paired Stephanie with job coach Kira Stadnik with Vision Community Development Corporation to help her find that job.

“Stephanie was eager to start working,” says Kira, so they practiced interviewing techniques and reviewed her resume. Designs by Camillas had an opening for an office clerk and with encouragement from Kira, Stephanie interviewed for the job. She won over her interviewers and was hired.

Kira is proud of Stephanie, “She’s a hard worker and so much fun to be around. All of the employees love to be around her. She follows directions well and is very responsible.” And Stephanie is excited to be working at Designs by Camillas. “The people are nice at my work. I love getting paid. I’m saving my money to buy a car, and I’m going to get my drivers’ license.”

Her supervisor, Erika Mejia, Vice President at Designs by Camillas, has high praise for Stephanie. “We’re glad to have Stephanie working for us and want to thank Visions for bringing her to us. We agree that it is very important for persons with disabilities to be employed and enhance their independence.”

While she is dedicated to her work, Stephanie is also as devoted to her extracurricular activities. In addition to her modeling, she gives back to the community by helping children with disabilities. She volunteers at the ARC of Kendall as a teacher’s assistant. She reads to the children, and helps them learn the alphabet, how to count, and computer skills. She also plays with them on the playground, which she enjoys.

Although modeling is her ultimate dream, Stephanie is happy to be working in a job she enjoys while continuing to pursue her other activities on the side. “Everyone did an amazing job with my job, and I love everybody.” Kira sums it up, “It’s been a pleasure working with Stephanie and watching her grow with her job responsibilities. She’s doing a great job, and she’ll go many places in life with her positive attitude.”

About Vocational Rehabilitation
Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. Our employer-focused website,, 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 89 offices across Florida, and last year helped 7,214 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit