Career Conversations: Job Readiness Recipients of 2021

woman holding folder

Introducing our Job Readiness Grant Recipients

Have you ever faced a barrier to employment because of your bleeding disorder or financial issues? Meet the recipients of HFA’s 2021 Job Readiness Grants. To learn more, visit our Job Readiness grants page.

Ahmed Tareq Al Badri, Six Sigma Green Belt Certification

"I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to write this letter. I had a lot of barriers when I moved to the US. A big one is my bleeding disorder which keeps me behind in everything. I have BSc in Chemical Engineering from Iraq that I cannot use here because it will need more activities. I worked before as a chemical engineer and I had internal bleeding which caused me a lot of pain, questions from my manager and questions from my co-workers. Now, I am working as a Case Aide part-time as needed. Some weeks I have no hours. I plan to use the HFA grant to study HR or learn Six Sigman Green Belt certification because it does not need physical activity and it is a good paying job. These courses will give me new skills that I need. I will gain certification after finishing these courses which will help me apply to any company and will hopefully find a full-time job, especially since I just recently got married! I need a stable job for myself and my new family. Thank you!

Daniella Cabello-Martinez, Veterinary Assistant

"This grant means a lot to me because I can actually do something that I love, as I will learn and be in the field that I have always wanted to be in since I was little. Through my whole years of high school I did a lot of volunteering for anything that had to do with animals. I volunteered for the Oregon Humane Society, The Oregon Zoo, Doggy Dash and Fences with Fido. I love any chance that I can get with animals. Goal wise I hope that I can work and find a job after I do this program and do what I love. I love animals a lot more than I love people. I am excited to be able to get this grant and do this program.

April Marie Driesse, Network Security Certification

"I am thrilled that I was chosen for this Job Readiness Grant and I feel very blessed and honored. As a recent graduate (May 23rd 2021) from Walden University with my Bachelors in Information Technology with emphasis in Security and Forensics, I was overjoyed that this grant came at such a time in my life, because I needed to be able to complete a few job certifications to be able to obtain jobs within my dream field, Cybersecurity or Network Security/Engineering. I worked very hard on my degree, and graduated with Latin honors, Cum-Laude, but I was finding that even though I obtained my Bachelors Degree, and had over ten years of experience in the IT Industry, I was finding that most employers desired certifications as well. This was difficult for me, because these job field certifications are very costly. The certifications that I aim to obtain are very pricey, and cannot be easily afforded due to recently having a newborn, as well as the only one who currently works in my household, and being on a very limited income. As a family of five, and the only one employed in my household, with two with bleeding disorders (not counting myself) and various other special needs, it was going to be very difficult to afford these certifications, however this job readiness grant is allowing me to be able to overcome that financial burden, and obtain both my CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ Certifications, which will no doubt open doors in the field that I desire to work within. This grant is going to not only allow me to obtain these certifications, but it will also allow me to be able to provide my family with financial stability due to a better paying job. I am very grateful, honored and blessed to have been selected for this grant. Thank you, so very much, HFA.

Ivan Giron, Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist Certification

"In ophthalmology there are three levels of certification for ophthalmic personnel: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (Level 1, COA), Certified Ophthalmic Technician (Level 2, COT) and Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist (Level 3, COMT). I currently hold the level two certification and I will be eligible to take the level three exam in December 2021. These certifications have been valuable for my growth as a technician. They have prepared me and equipped me with the knowledge and skills to perform at a higher level. Having the certifications and experience have made me stand out from other candidates when looking for employment. My hourly wage has increased, partly due to the certifications. I am now looking to get the Level Three certificate to increase my knowledge and growth as a technician. I want to apply to the UCLA Eye Institute which is considered the fifth best eye institute in the country. Having the COMT will definitely increase my chances of getting hired and will increase my pay as well. On top of that UCLA has great benefits which I am looking for due to my health conditions (hemophilia and glaucoma). The COMT certification combined with the bachelor’s degree that I am currently pursuing in college will allow me to become a top-of-the-line technician at UCLA and will set me up financially for the future. I ask that you please consider me for this grant. It will help me tremendously. I am a husband and father of three kids. I am the sole provider at this moment due to Covid. I want to set the example for my teenage kids that education is one of the keys to a successful life. Any financial assistance towards my education would help and would be a great investment. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ashley Holland, Certified Veterinary Technician

"I grew up with two younger brothers who were diagnosed with Severe Hemophilia A. The diagnosis came as a surprise to the family so it was a learning process for us all. Many memories of my childhood are sitting at the hospital while my brothers went through treatments, routine appointments, or even surgeries. For many children, the hospital is a traumatic place. For myself, I loved going there. I found excitement in the organized chaos at all hours, the equipment, nurses, doctors, and even the smell. The environment fueled my curiosity. Working with people was never my desire; I wanted a job with animals. As I got into my high school years, I got selected for genetic testing. When the results came back showing not only I have Von Willebrands, but also a carrier of Severe Hemophilia A, it took me off guard. I saw it as an opportunity to be upset and get stuck in life, or to accept my diagnosis and live like I had up until that point. I chose to move on and live normally like my brothers had. Through this, my passion for the vet field only grew. I found a job at a local clinic and discovered my love for the vet tech position. This led to me applying to Baker College for their vet tech program which I will be starting this fall. I see working in the medical field as a thank you to all of those who helped my family get through the tough times we had at my brother’s diagnosis as well as my own. The support from everyone was a blessing for my family and this grant is helping me fill my desire to give back to those that made an impact on my life.

Pamela A. Migliore, Certified Phlemotomy Training

"I was diagnosed with Hemophilia A, mild, less than a year ago at the age of 43, after being told by a Hematologist in my HMO that I couldn’t possibly have Hemophilia and, at worst, was the carrier that gave it to my child. My youngest child was diagnosed with mild Hemophilia A after emergency surgery due to uncontrolled bleeding following a tonsillectomy when he was eight. Since our diagnoses, I’ve overseen performing our infusions at home: pre-activity prophy treatments for myself so that I can manage my hemophilic arthritis while participating as a competitive axe thrower and on-demand treatments for my very accident-prone son with multiple target joints. When I had my two children, I made a choice to leave corporate America so that I could raise them. Now that they are off to Middle School, I’ve gone back to school to gain medical training in hopes of being able to perform travel emergency medicine, ideally to populations without great access to Hemophilia care, once my kids are off to college. I am starting this journey with my certificate in Phlebotomy, which I plan to earn during the Fall 2021 semester from Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado. I hope that, as a Hemophiliac myself, who had a lifetime of negative experiences with blood draws before my diagnosis, that I’ll be able to provide compassionate care for all of my patients and that I’ll be able to raise awareness of bleeding issues amongst other members of the medical community. I am so thankful to have been selected as a recipient of this grant.

Dr. Milybet Montijo-Cepeda, Meditation & Mindfulness Teacher Certification

"It is an honor to receive the Hemophilia Federation of America Job Readiness Grant (Helping Forward Program). This grant will benefit my son (who has severe hemophilia), special needs students, co-workers, family, friends, and the bleeding disorders community. I cannot forget myself, who would also benefit from this meditation journey. Once I obtain the Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher certification, it will be an honor and a privilege to donate my skills to the hemophilia community. “Mindfulness meditation training has been linked to a broad range of cognitive, affective, and health outcomes” (Brown et al., 2015). COVID-19 has affected many of my students. I struggled through a trial-and-error process to virtually find what works for each of my students. Beauchemin (2008) reported that mindful meditation decreases anxiety and self-focus, promotes social skills and academic success for students with learning disabilities. Practicing meditation can help us make each day calm and relaxed, and stress-free. I believe meditation can help us remember to focus on what we can control in the wildly out-of-control world that we are facing now. I’m a firm believer that meditation and mindfulness would benefit me and perfect my craft, especially during these times. Thank you again for this opportunity.

Rene Pimentel, Community Association Manager License

"With this job readiness grant I’ll be able to finally get my CAM license and be on my way to a higher paying position. I can’t thank Hemophilia Foundation of America enough. I’m finally going to be on my way to the financial freedom I’ve been fighting for.

Osvaldo Vega, State Adjustor Certification

"With this grant I will be able to get certified and licensed as a State Adjuster in the areas of Property & Liability Insurance, Automobile Claims, Hurricane and Catastrophe adjusting and Workers’ Compensation. Having this license will open many doors and opportunities for me in all the areas above. At the same time, I will be an example to my son that no matter the circumstance or age you can still learn and grow in a different area. It is never too late…Thank you!

Carl A. Weixler, Certified Peer Support Specialist (PSS)

"HeadshotPeer support has been one of the main threads through most all of my life’s work. That is why I sought an HFA Grant to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist (PSS). I am very grateful to be one of the recipients and my goal is to serve the bleeding disorders, HIV/HCV, depression, and substance use communities with the knowledge I gain from becoming certified. Life is too precious to waste being brought down into the darkness from our struggles, that is why I want to bring hope and light to the end of the tunnel for others.

Anastasia Wright, Russian Language Certification

"I am using my Job Readiness Grant to take a Russian language course! With the skills gained from this training, I intend to pursue my TORFL levels and work towards my eventual goal of working in translation and interpretation. This grant means a chance to move towards a career that is friendlier on my joints, allows me to help others, particularly those in underserved areas of the bleeding disorders community, and find a much more dependable source of income as i work towards financial independence and a life of my own. I plan to use this training to go beyond a job and into a career, where I can feel like I’m truly making a difference for those around me whether I am translating a business document, helping someone understand the instructions their doctor gives, or interpreting a public event. I am truly grateful to the HFA for awarding me this grant and giving me the chance to further my career and dreams.