The Deborah Jackson Rising Star Award award was established in 2017 and is given each year at our annual meeting in recognition of a consumer who has accomplished the most and achieved the greatest independence throughout the year.
This award has much meaning to Independence Now. The award is in the shape of a star because a star has 5 points and Deborah was absolutely committed to the 5 core independent living services that we provide: Information and referral, independent living skills, peer mentoring, advocacy and transition.
We went a bit further with a rising star because Deborah was a leading star and many consumers follow her lead of gaining a life of independence. She was unshakable in her passion for Independent Living during the almost 10 years she worked for Independence Now.
It is with great joy that we now present this award in Deborah’s honor and memory to William Shawhan who carries on her commitment to an independent life.
We first met Will in 2015 when he attended the Youth Leadership Forum, he was headed off to the University of Maryland College Park. In 2022 he graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics. In October of last year he accepted an economist position in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Office of Publications and Special Studies, Division of New Media.
He credits some of his personal and professional growth to Disability:IN. Where college students and recent graduates with disabilities are matched one-on-one with mentors. Will worked with a mentor to draft a vision statement, practice for job interviews, and complete other career development activities.
Will also used the career advisors at the University of Maryland Career Center to ask questions about career development. He also conducted informational interviews to learn about career options and expand his network.
Will also took advantage of the Job Accommodation Network to seek advice on requesting accommodations during the hiring process and then as he began the job. Will was very committed to getting a job in the field he was interested in and had studied. Let’s congratulate Will for all that he has accomplished and achieved in the past year.