Open Doors


ago
5 min
30
readings
3

Chaz is a graduate of Temple University’s Academy for Adult Learning, for which he received a scholarship from the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities. Chaz serves on the Board of  [+]

Image of 2020
Image of Creative Nonfiction
This story was published in partnership with the Institute On Disabilities at Temple University.

The Eagles won the Superbowl, and I got a ring.
 
I'm 31 years old and I've had at least 18 jobs. I started in high school. I used to work at CVS on Stenton Avenue in Philadelphia.  I stocked the shelves. I looked at the labels of the products and checked the expiration dates. Working at CVS was fun. I also worked at the Reading Terminal Market wiping tables and taking out the trash. I really enjoyed working near all of the different foods there. I also worked at Martin Luther King High School doing maintenance. My favorite thing about working there was the team of people that I worked with. They even threw me a birthday party and bought me a new pair of sneakers. I worked at ShopRite, bagging groceries and restocking returns. I also stocked produce. I did not like this job because I asked to be trained as a cashier to improve my skills and gain more experience, but my managers told me "no." 

I wanted to go to college to learn more and to improve my education. I applied to Philadelphia Community College. I went there to take a placement test and completed the placement test. After I took the test, the person that gave me the placement test told me that I did not get accepted. They said "you did not get accepted" and I left.

A job coach from my agency said that I couldn't go to college and that I shouldn't go. They said that college wasn't the best for me. A staff person from the agency said that it would be a waste of time and funding for me to go. I felt judged, but I still wanted to go to college. I wanted to go to Temple.
My supports coordinator, Meghan, told me about [a] Temple University program. She said I could take classes. You get a tutor and a mentor and a certificate when you graduate. My co-workers from ShopRite gave me encouragement and motivated me to [apply]. I filled out the paperwork on paper and online. It was at least 10 pages, but I had help from my mom and Meghan.

For the interview, I met Ms. Kathy at the student center. It was just me, her and my mom, and she explained the program. My second interviewer was Mrs. Titania. She asked me questions about myself. I was anxious about both interviews and my stomach was bubbly.

The acceptance letter came in the mail. It was in a regular white envelope with the Temple logo on it. I knew it was from Temple when I saw that Temple logo. When I got the letter and before I opened it, I felt excited. When I opened it, it said "congratulations, you got accepted into the program." When I saw that, I called everyone I know to tell them that I got accepted! I felt so excited! My mom was with me when I opened the letter and shew as the first person that I told. The second person that I told was my supports coordinator, Meghan. I then called everyone else.
 
I was also excited to find out that I received the Mayor Commission for People with Disabilities Scholarship in honor of Mr. Charles Horton the Executive Director of the Mayor's Commission on People with Disabilities.
The first day that I went to Temple, I got the train with my mom. I wore black dress pants and a dress shirt. When I got to campus, I felt awesome! I was nervous too. I found my classes ok because my mentor took me to class. The first friend that I made at orientation was Teyana; she was in my seminar. The campus was busy for the first day. We took a tour of the Bell Tower our first day. We took a tour of the campus too. The weather was sunny and beautiful. We did a scavenger hunt throughout campus and break out into groups to find different things on campus. We then sat on the grass and lawn chairs at the Bell Tower and talked.

The Student Center is my favorite place because of the game room. Jack, my advisor, gave us a game card for the game room. He is a good person, good to know, and still lets me come up for the social gatherings. I really liked my Jazz History teacher because she worked with my disability. Working with the groups was easy and I had a tutor that helped me. He explained things that I did not understand. The Liacouras Center was also my favorite place because that is where the Temple players play. During the first game that I went to, I asked if I could take a picture of them. They laughed at me and made me feel bad. They apologized to me afterwards. My friends told me not to worry about it.

We all went to the disability prom. My mentors went with me. We also went to the Temple game. We also cooked together. Doors were opened up for me completely. I thought, "God is so good."

I joined the Main Campus Board. Each time you go to a meeting, you earn points for attending. I attended every single meeting.  I had earned at least 100 points, so they gave me tickets Dave and Busters to play games. When I graduated, they held a luncheon for us and honored me and gave me the best team player award. When we went to Dave and Busters, the whole main campus board was there. We played games, hung out, and drank. We ate ribs. I felt really happy to have been a part of the program.

I met Miss Wendy when I graduated from Temple.  She told me about IDDS and their Brighter Futures Awards. She told me to apply and I won an award in 2018. [Then] I joined the committee; we meet the third Wednesday of every month. Ms. Wendy is like another mother to me.

After graduation, I got a job working for the Eagles at the Lincoln financial field. My god-mom took me to apply. They interviewed me twice, on phone and in person. They asked me if I wanted to work in the pro-shop, but they gave me the option of working outside with all the event staff, and that's what I wanted to do.
In my second week there, my supervisor told me to escort a blind customer out the building. She emailed the office to recognize me for doing that, and they took me on the field to watch Eagles game that day. They gave me the paper with ‘MVP' on it. People said great job.  They gave me two $5 coupons to redeem at the game and they gave me an MVP pin to put on my key chain.

On my one-year anniversary, they gave me a locker with my name plate above it, and they had cocktail party – champagne and hors d'Oeuvres for all our hard work. All the supervisors are nice to me. They help me get into my locker (I'm bad with numbers).

It was my first season there and we won the Super Bowl. There was a big parade in the city, but I stayed home - too many people. I watched it at my neighbor's house on TV. When I came into work, they emailed everybody and that's how I got the ring. Its big, it's got my last name on there, it has the stadium and the football. Its heavy. I don't wear it every day. I wear it to the Eagles end of the year party and to the games sometimes. During the end of the year party, we meet some players and I get my picture taken with them. We take pictures with the cheerleaders and get autographs. They know me; I'm like a famous person there too.  I have people who look out for me.

They told me I can't ever leave. I like it there.
 

3

A few words for the author? Comment below. 0 comments

Take a look at our advice on commenting here

To post comments, please

You might also like…

Creative Nonfiction

Almost

Lisa Christensen

For over four years I worked at a newspaper in Tooele County, a rural desert county in Utah. I had a coworker once say the county is a collection of almosts—it could be almost a fantastic hiking... [+]

Creative Nonfiction

Domino Beach

Marie Ivantechenko

The familiar scent of earl gray tea sends me back to my grandma’s living room. When I was in elementary school, I’d come over multiple times a week and we’d sit on her off-white couch drinking... [+]

Creative Nonfiction

Tiger, Oh Tiger

Kenneth N. Margolin

The black man who approached from the rear of the gathering at my father's burial looked to be one hundred years old. He was frail, but not bent. He walked haltingly, supported by two black... [+]