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Project SEARCH Graduates Seek New Opportunities

Project SEARCH Graduates Seek New Opportunities

You are different people here today than when you started the program. Don’t stop learning; you are now a life-long learner.

John Malanowski
Photo: Project SEARCH graduate Patrice Tsetsi says, “she learned how to get her crayons back.” (Photo by Kristie LeBlanc)

“Everyone is born creative. Everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty, they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the “creative bug” is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back please.’”

Patrice Tsetsi quoted the poet and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod with a slightly quavering voice at this year’s Project SEARCH graduation on June 10.

“[This quote] sums up my year with Project SEARCH, but not how you might think,” she said. “Growing up is never an easy thing to do, but that’s just one of the many things Project SEARCH helped me do, without even knowing it.”

Project SEARCH, having just completed its third year, is an innovative education program that provides workplace training for young adults with intellectual or development disabilities.

Looking back on her experience interning in multiple departments—Outpatient Rehabilitation, the Outpatient Surgery Center, Transportation and the Blood Bank –at Dartmouth-Hitchcock during the past 10 months, Tsetsi declared, “I want my crayons back, so I can continue to grow and add color to my new path in life. I don’t need to color within the lines anymore; I’ve learned that it’s OK to explore my own vision.”

Tsetsi and the other five Project SEARCH graduates—Dylan Cadreact, Carly Coulter, Cristy Golec, Daniel Matthews and Tesha Thibodeau—thanked their co-workers, supervisors and mentors in 15 D-H departments who guided them through a year of discovery and change. The six New Hampshire and Vermont young adults learned how to overcome challenges in learning, social skills and work habits in order to become employable adult workers.

John S. Malanowski, chief human resources officer at D-H, spoke to the graduates during the ceremony, addressing them collectively and individually in his remarks.

“We have taken care of 2.5 million patients during over 121 years at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. We take care of patients every day and you guys were part of that,” Malanowski said. “As you take care of the next patient, just imagine the care that he or she will receive. I have no question looking at each of you that every person will have a good experience.”

“You learned a very diverse set of skills that every employer and business in this community should want,” he added. “It’s clear to me that you made a difference in our lives and in our patients’ lives.”

The graduates shared “an amazing transformation … that involved … gaining the confidence and skills that will help them gain competitive paid employment and lead rich and fulfilling lives in their communities,” Malanowski said.

Summing up what the group had learned during the past year, Malanowski concluded, “You kept the glass half full at all times. Your eyes have been opened as to how capable you really are. You are different people here today than when you started the program. Don’t stop learning; you are now a life-long learner.”

Learn more about Project SEARCH.