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Fostering Second Chances for Career Growth

Illness and an unexpected career shift couldn’t keep Cynthia Coleman from pursuing a second chance at a promising career.

Having worked in the banking industry in an IT executive role for more than 20 years, Cynthia Coleman had no intention of changing careers. But her plans suddenly changed when she was diagnosed with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Cynthia realized she couldn’t continue to work as she had, so she migrated into retirement and spent several years volunteering using the nursing skills she’d gained during school.

Her desire to rejoin the workforce and be independent, however, spurred her to reach out to a friend who ultimately connected her with BDI and the opportunity to work in their call center. That introduction, Cynthia says, opened up a whole new life for her.

At first, Cynthia was uncertain about how reentering the workforce would go, especially since she now had a service dog. Those fears were quickly put to rest. She recalls, “From the time I walked into that door, [BDI] made me feel like I could do it. The people here were so receptive and supportive. The leadership team was incredible.”

Cynthia mentions that even Hook, her 5-year-old service dog, is able to engage with the work culture at BDI. During new hire training classes, they speak to the new hires about what to be mindful of when working with people who have a service dog. That, she says, is important for others to experience and understand.

In addition to enjoying her work at BDI, Cynthia is grateful for the opportunity to socialize. “I feel like I’m a part of this world again,” she explains. “I found that I’m in a place where I’m really making a difference. BDI has showed me that there are people that will work with you and do everything in their power to make you feel comfortable. Life does not have to be sitting at home, retiring and growing old with these disabilities. You need to be social.”

Despite her unexpected career shift and health struggles, Cynthia is energized and hopeful. With BDI’s help, Cynthia gained confidence to rejoin the workforce and now envisions a new meaningful future for herself: one that revolves around independence.

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