Montel: Valedictorian, Associate Data Scientist, DORS Consumer

September 2021
- Montel began working with the DORS Suitland office in 2012 while he was a student at Surrattsville High School in Clinton, Maryland. His first counselor was DORS transitioning youth (TY) counselor, Danielle Lyons, who provided TY counseling and guidance, and job development services.

After completing a very successful high school career, where he was class valedictorian and featured in a Washington Post article, Montel went on to study computer science at Towson University. In college, Montel initially faced a number of challenges (outlined in another Post article​), but ultimately got on the Dean’s List and graduated in May of 2019.

While at Towson, he worked with several DORS vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors. In early 2020, his case was transferred to DORS (then Suitland) counselor, Janice Drakeford. Montel wanted to prepare for a career in his field of choice, computer science, so Janice had him work with job coach, Kimberly Briscoe from College for All​. Janice Drakeford: “You want to find a good fit and, because she is a former educator, I felt that Ms. Briscoe would understand how to best help Montel to be successful in getting a job.” Montel agrees: “[Ms. Briscoe] helped me with my interview skills and tailoring my resume to the company I was applying to. We met [virtually] weekly from July of last year to the day I started working in April.”

Montel is now working full time as an Associate Data Scientist for The MITRE Corporation, a Virginia-based data solutions company. As part of his hiring process, Montel participated in an online panel interview where he had to “solve a technical problem making data systems more organized and to work efficiently.” The panel was impressed and Montel was soon hired. “I’m proficient in several data languages… and, I’m doing some interesting work, on different projects, mostly web development. . . creating graphics, organizing data, and data navigation.”

Janice reports that Montel’s supervisor at MITRE is very pleased with Montel’s work. “[MITRE] knows that [Montel] has a disability and he is one of their first such hires. They want him to be successful.”

For his part, Montel says that his new job is working out well. “I like the freedom around my tasks… I can choose what I get to work on first and how I group them.” He is currently working virtually, but “…when the time comes, I would like to work in the office some of the time. Eventually go from my current position to a Lead Data Scientist.” He also said that he hopes to work at MITRE for years to come.

The services that Montel received through DORS helped prepare him for the next steps in his life and career. “Working with DORS, it did make me more confident in living independently… helping me balance my time, my budget, my work… I feel more confident that I can live on my own one day. [DORS staff and providers] are very friendly… they help you with any problems or issues you need to work on.”

Janice Drakeford is pleased to see Montel doing so well. “I’m really happy for him…and it has been great working with Ms. Briscoe. It has really been a dynamic team. It brings me great joy to see his success!”

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