At the Lobby of NuPath’s Home Office in Woburn, MA, Suzanne Robertson’s sunny disposition greets program participants, employees and visitors as they pass through the organization’s welcoming entrance.
Within the 38-year-old’s bright and cheery demeanor lies a memorable adventure that has seen Robertson experience the gamut of human emotion. The latest chapter of her journey was written at the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday, where she received an award for her vision, advocacy and support for inclusion.
Accompanied by several of her closest friends and colleagues, Robertson received a standing ovation from those inside of The Great Hall for her perseverance and dedication through the highs and lows of a journey that began with NuPath 17 years prior.
“This is one of the greatest highlights in my time with NuPath,” she said. “I’m proud of where I am today.”
Robertson accepted the award from Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services Commissioner Elin Howe and Vice President at Clark University, Jack Foley. He described Suzanne as someone “who has made great efforts to remain optimistic and focused on being an independent, confident woman.”
However, confidence and independence was hard to come by when Robertson first started at NuPath. She was 22 and left to face the fears of starting at a new program alone and was, in her own words, “an emotional wreck” for the first several months.
Director of Day Services James Sanon had the opportunity to meet Suzanne when she first started and saw the potential she possessed early on.
“She was an outgoing, friendly, energetic and resilient person who always recovered from challenges,” he said. “Suzanne just needed someone to respect her issues and treat her like a person, not someone with a disability.”
Robertson had something “snap” inside of her one morning, which radically altered her vision of the future. “That morning, I started to present myself better…always wanting to do my best and making sure everything was perfect,” she said.
As she began to find steady work in the community via NuPath’s vocational program, she had her eyes set on a much bigger prize on the road to independence. “I wanted to positively contribute to the community,” Robertson said.
To achieve her dream, she participated in NuPath’s inaugural Job Camp, a class that runs every Friday from October to June. Led by volunteer Bill Strazzulo, participants in this informative course learn all the skills needed to seek and attain employment in the community.
Mock interviews, resume preparation and professional conduct are just some of the skills men and women enrolled in Job Camp are taught. Robertson’s participation in the course was another shining light to guide her ongoing journey.
“It made me look at the bigger picture…about what companies need to see in a potential employee,” she said. “Job Camp gave me the confidence to go into an interview and feel like I could get a job offer.”
Since attending Job Camp back in 2013, Suzanne has parlayed the skills she’s learned into two part-time jobs. She works as an associate at CVS in Woburn part-time while remaining true to her roots, working the front desk at NuPath’s Home Office twice a week – the same desk where she has delivered service with a smile for over 10 years.
Today, she trains new hires on working the phones and Microsoft Office with the budding confidence that continues to guide her amazing journey with the organization.
“I feel completely confident that I can do anything thanks to the dedicated team at NuPath,” she said.
Robertson also offered a piece of advice to others travelling a similar journey in life…
“Don’t give up…don’t ever give up.”