Virtual Career Exploration - The Next Evolution

Presentation with live Q&A
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With Covid restricting many of our in-person service activities over the past few years, Virginia DBVI had to reconsider ways for our students to explore STEM careers.  We have often found that our students may not be strongly encouraged to investigate STEM fields by the school counselors they work with, so we want to offer these important opportunities for students to explore and learn.  STEM exploration is a WIN-WIN since almost any career pathway will include an element of technology.  In 2020 Covid forced us to pilot our first-ever virtual STEM academy wondering if our students would thrive in a virtual setting. When the first pilot was successful, we followed up in 2021 with 3 offerings, and then offered 5 STEM academies this past summer, with 32 students accessing 92 programs total.  The content of the 2022 summer academies provided both depth and fun!

Meet the Presenters:

Tish Harris
Photo of Tish HarrisTish brings a diverse array of business, higher education, workforce and non-profit experience to her role as the Pre-Employment Transitions Services and Career Pathways Coordinator for the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI). Previous to this position, Tish served at the Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities Coordinator for Virginia DBVI.  As the Director of Operations for her family business, Tish oversaw the expansion and operation of a family business from one location to 15 business locations, employing over 500 people, as well as an expansion into commercial properties. She continued to serve on the Board of Directors of the family business while she turned her efforts to youth non-profits and higher education, where she specialized in resource development and volunteer outreach. Tish moved into Workforce Development, serving as a Grant Director and Director of Operations for the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, and as a Program Manager for Blue Ridge Community College’s Workforce and Continuing Education group.  Tish has taught Business at the college level for 22 years. As a member of the CPID team and now as the Pre-ETS Coordinator at DBVI, Tish has delivered innovative programs and partnerships, piloting a number of successful and sustainable events and academies.

Photo of MeganMegan O'Tool Hall, MS CRC
Megan is currently serving as the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation and Workforce Services for the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI). Her current position involves responsibility for overseeing the Pre-Employment Transition Service program development, staff training, program support, case management reviews, budgeting, contracting and the provision of the use of the 15% Pre-Employment Transition Service set aside. Prior to that, she served as the Assistant Director of Vocational Rehabilitation, also with DBVI.  Hall has been employed in both the public and private sectors of Vocational Rehabilitation for 20 years. Hall received her B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Southern Mississippi, her Masters in Counseling with a Rehabilitation emphasis from Mississippi State University, and most recently obtained a Post-Masters Certification in Transition Studies from Utah State University. Hall is currently enrolled in the National Rehabilitation Leadership Institute through San Diego State University with an anticipated completion date of December 2022.

photo of Debra Deborah Collard
Deborah is currently serving as the Senior Program Analyst in the Policy and Evaluation Unit for the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI).  This position provides leadership in the design and conduct of evaluation and research studies, data collection and analysis, and strategic planning for the Department to ensure quality service delivery and compliance with federal, state and agency policies and procedures.  Deborah has over twenty years of public service experience. Before joining the DBVI, she was a Research Specialist for the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.  Deborah received her B.S. in Biology from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa Oklahoma, received graduate training in data collection and analysis from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and most recently received PEQA certification through PEQA-TAC sponsored by the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Ishan Jadwani