April 2019 - When Bright Dzansi moved to America from Ghana in October of 2000, he had big dreams for his new future, but he could not have imagined how different that future would be.
In May of 2014, as he was crossing a street, he was hit by a car. "I was rushed to shock trauma and was in a coma for weeks. I also fractured my leg. I lost memories of everyone...all my cousins...some are slowly coming back." Bright's memory loss is from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and as part of his recovery, he worked with a speech therapist; she told him about DORS.
"[The speech therapist] recommended that I go back to school, but at 52, I thought I was too old for school, but I have a background in science, so she encouraged me."
Before his injury, Bright was a truck driver, so he was interested in DORS' Workforce & Technology Center
's (WTC) Automotive General Service Technician
training program. He started the training in February of 2016 and ended up completing both the Automotive General Service Technician 1 and 2 courses. "I realized that [the training] was too general, so I worked in two tire shops, I spend a few months learning more, and I told myself: 'I can do this.' I wanted to see how I could adjust myself."
Throughout his recovery and rehabilitation, Bright relied on the support of DORS staff. "Those wonderful personalities, I can't forget about them, so many played a role in my success." One such supporter is Rehabilitation Supervisor, Gloria Diggs-Branch, who was Bright's rehabilitation counselor. "Mr. Dzansi has worked very hard, with an awesome team effort from DORS and WTC staff (Mr. Sindiso included), to get to where he is now. He has come from having a TBI and not working, to owning his own business, and being successful at the services that he provides." Mr. Sindiso is WTC Automotive Instructor, Sindiso Nyathi, who according to Gloria, has: "Gone above and beyond!"
Bright agrees that Sindiso has been a steadfast supporter. So, when a friend noticed a tire shop for rent on Harford Road in Baltimore, "I followed up with Sindiso and he encouraged me!" That tire shop is now Bright's own business, Quality Tires and Rims
, at 4257 Harford Road, Baltimore, which he opened in May of 2017.
"I now have two employees and I'm working on marketing, doing some geo-mapping, and advertising the business...I have a discount for members of the community Facebook group
." Bright and his staff mostly work on tires. "I get my new tires from American Tire
and my used tires from Emmanuel Tires
." However, he is branching out and doing a few other repairs and using the opportunity to learn more. "I was working on a new car and I didn't know what to do, so I took it to the school [WTC] and we put it on the computer and figured it out!"
Bright is also using what he has learned during his journey to employment success to give back, including speaking to the WTC Automotive Services Advisory Board. "I suggested that the [WTC] school give students a chance to work in a field shop...to get an idea of outside work and actual job experience." He also stresses the importance of the right outlook. He recalls one of the doctor's at Hopkins telling him: "The worst thing you can do for yourself is to give up." So, he is passing on that message. "I told them [the advisory board] the school has everything in place to help the students, except individual determination...you have to have the idea and the desire to help yourself." Bright's willingness to give back and provide guidance earned him the Friends of WTC Award at the 2017 Maryland Rehabilitation Conference
The closure of the bridge on Harford Road has slowed down business at bit, but Bright says that his regular customers are loyal. He hopes his marketing efforts will continue to bring in business and, he is predictably optimistic:" As long as I can pay the bills, I will be okay."
Bright stands next to s sign on his office door that reads: Dreams do come true.