Alem is originally from Ethiopia where he attended high school and pursued his studies in nursing. In December 2004, only three months before completing nursing school, he suffered a stroke resulting in the paralysis of his right side. His disability limited his ability to use his right hand, his dominant hand, and affected his ability to stand or walk for prolonged amounts of times. As a result of these limitations, he could not continue with his dream of becoming a nurse. After immigrating to the U.S., he mainly worked as a parking lot attendant but was laid off. Afterwards, he had difficulty finding a job. He had concerns that employers were hesitant to hire him due to his obvious physical disability and limitations. He applied for and received Supplementary Security Income (SSI), but Alem had a dream to do more with his life.
With a strong desire to have a career and a better life, Alem earned a vocational certificate in Accounting and Bookkeeping, and an Associate of Arts in Accounting at the College of Southern Nevada on his own. Yet, having the ability and aptitude to achieve more, he wanted to go further with his education. So, in 2015, he applied for vocational rehabilitation services to pursue his bachelor’s degree.
Along with counseling and guidance, the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR) assisted with tuition, textbooks, and school supplies, as well as a laptop and gas assistance to help him reach his educational goal. Due to difficulties taking lecture notes, he received Rehabilitation Technology, which included a Livescribe 2GB Echo Smart Pen, which allowed him to record lectures and download notes onto his laptop, and a Mini USB Wireless Keyboard, which is smaller in size than a standard keyboard to allow him to type more efficiently. He also received support from the Disabled Resource Center (DRC) at University of Las Vegas to help minimize any educational barriers. With the help from BVR as well as DRC, Alem obtained his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Las Vegas.
After graduation, BVR provided employment services to help Alem prepare for interviews, develop a resume, create a cover letter, search for jobs leads, and certify for the 700 hour program, which assists people with disabilities to secure employment with the State of Nevada. He also received interview clothing. Eventually, Alem was hired as an Accounting Assistant I through the 700 hour program, where he continues to be successfully employed.
On a personal level, he also reached his dream of having a family, and now has a beautiful wife and two young children. But his dream does not stop there, he still has his sights to promote to more responsible positions within the state and someday become a Certified Public Accountant. The Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation is very proud to be a part of Alem’s success and has no doubts he will continue to fulfill his dreams and goals.