EAST HANOVER, NJ — More than 100 high school students with disabilities visited Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation for a day of career exploration on Oct. 19, National Disability Mentoring Day, according to a December press release from Novartis. Students from 11 schools, including West Orange High School, participated.
This annual event at the company’s East Hanover campus helps students with special needs recognize that they have a role as part of a diverse future workforce and inspire them to think about possible future careers for themselves.
Students engaged in interactive career sessions, including a career fair with companies that hire people with disabilities and area colleges and universities with strong inclusion practices. Students also heard from a panel of people with disabilities who have gained success in their careers or personal lives despite their challenges.
Keynote speaker Karen Gaffney, president of the Karen Gaffney Foundation and a passionate advocate for full inclusion in families, schools, communities and the workplace for people with Down syndrome or other developmental disabilities, inspired the students.
“When you are tempted to say, ‘No way, I’ll never make it. It takes too much work, too much discipline,’ remember: yes, it does take those things but you can do it,” Gaffney told the students. “Have the courage to dream big. Make the most of what you have been given. Then, call attention to what you have achieved.”