Recently a delegation from the Korean VR program visited DORS. They enjoyed hearing about DORS' services from DORS consumer turned VR Counselor: Cory Richo
Cory Richo first connected with the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) while he was in high school. DORS provided supports to help him attend college. At that time he was paralyzed. However, three months after his graduation from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Cory also lost his vision. He contacted DORS again to get services to help him adjust to blindness.
When asked about adjusting to blindness while also having to use a wheelchair, Cory said “You find ways to overcome it. I had already faced losing [mobility] so I knew how to move on.”
Cory found that, since losing his sight, he needed to improve his computer skills, so he enrolled in Office Technology training at DORS’ Workforce & Technology Center (WTC). He graduated from WTC in 2010 and began his job search.
To build his resume, Cory did a few internships, including one at DORS. He also went back to college and earned his Master’s degree in 2014. Cory’s connections to DORS helped him when he applied for a position as a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor in DORS’ Eastern Baltimore County office. “I was asked at the interview what I had in my background that would help me relate to DORS mission. I told them ‘I have a disability and I know the [DORS] process.’”
Despite his background and connections, Cory had to beat out a lot of competition. More than 600 candidates applied for three openings and only 50 were chosen for interviews.
Cory says he was thrilled when he got the call offering him the position. “The HR person asked if I was still interested. I said ‘I am! I am!’”
Cory recently celebrated his one-year anniversary as a DORS VR counselor. He is unique in that he is a VR counselor in DORS’ Office of Field Services (OFS) and is completely blind. His caseload includes consumers with a variety of disabilities, but not blindness. DORS’ Office for Blindness & Vision Services has several counselors who are blind, but Cory is unique in OFS.
“I really enjoy it. It’s a tough job, but I have a passion to help people with disabilities to see that they can live full lives. No one is absolutely independent – we all need help. We find what we can do and we use that to flow and move forward and succeed.”
Cory's story is featured in the annual 2015 Investing in America
report, put out by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR)!