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Project Search: Mayo Clinic Giving Students with Disabilities Experience in the Lab

March 31, 2017 08:13 AM

(ABC 6 News) -- Local students with disabilities are getting a chance at attaining career goals through a program at Mayo Clinic.

21-year-old Alex Streffl is one of those students, and he’s already a full-time Mayo lab assistant.

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He was introduced to the international program called “Project Search” in high school.

"One of my teachers from high school, they just thought I was a good person to do this," Streffl told us.

“Project Search” is for students 18 to 21 years old, in their last year of high school in the Rochester Public School District.

Nancy Joyce is an instructor for the program.

“It's an employer-based model, where it's an immersion - total immersion- of individuals with cognitive, intellectual disabilities into the work force," she said.

Those who want to be considered for the program have to go through a long application process but interns said the results are worth it.

"Interns have three, 10-week internships in various departments here at the Mayo Clinic," Joyce said.

The program includes a combination of classroom time and hands-on work which then helps prepare students for a job.

Simon Ngkwery is currently going through the process now.

"My next goal is to get a competitive employment here at Mayo Clinic after I'm done,” Ngkwery told us.

"Project search is overall a good opportunity to gain work skills, and they help you with your resume and update it," Strefel said.

The work and skills which helps the interns achieve goals they may not have otherwise:

"Like have confidence in myself," Ngkwerky said.

"Makes me feel good of helping patients everyday. It's a good experience for me," Streffl said.

This is only the second year for project search here in Rochester.


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