NextGen Spotlight: Isaac “Ike” Tallerine
Though Ike Tallerine was born with vision disabilities, his parents had the same high expectations for him as they did for his eight siblings. As a result, Ike learned from an early age to manage his environment to allow him to participate and succeed in academics and extracurricular activities, including track & field. In college when Ike went out for track & field, his coach noted his powerful build and suggested he consider weight lifting. This suggestion led Ike to a new sport in which he excelled and a new leadership opportunity. Ike became Founder and President of the Texas State University Weightlifting Club, spearheading the first Olympic weightlifting collegiate team in Texas. Ike’s involvement with the Weightlifting Club piqued his interest in health and fitness, which led to an undergraduate degree in Health & Fitness Management.
After college graduation, while Ike worked at local health and fitness clubs, he realized he had higher aspirations and wanted a career in the finance industry. Ike knew he would need an advance degree. As an undergraduate, Ike needed very few accommodations, but to succeed in the higher-level math courses he knew he would need accommodations. As a graduate student in the highly-competitive and math-heavy Master of Science in Finance Program at Texas Tech University’s Rawls College of Business, Ike negotiated with each professor to work out what accommodations would work best for each specific class, like leveraging the technology of ‘screen mirroring’ to connect one professor’s laptop with his accessible screen.
During Ike’s graduate years at Texas Tech University he connected with the disability services office and built a strong relationship with a counselor who encouraged him to apply for the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). One particularly helpful internship interview with an Air Force Manager led Ike to recognize that he would be well-suited for the private sector, given his expected graduate degree, professional experience, and career goals. Ike immediately applied and was accepted to Disability:IN’s Mentorship Exchange and Talent Accelerator Programs.
Ike’s experience in the Mentorship Exchange program was exceptionally beneficial. His mentor, John LeGrande, Vice President at JPMorgan Chase, was a great match during Ike’s last year of graduate school. John’s guidance on how to focus conversations with potential employers and assistance with resume writing were extremely helpful. According to John, “having the opportunity to work with Ike through the Disability:IN partnership has been a privilege! He’s a master networker with incredible drive and passion to succeed in all that he sets out to accomplish. I know our relationship will extend much longer than a formal mentoring program.”
The Talent Accelerator, a networking and career readiness academy held in conjunction with the Disability:IN Annual Conference, provided Ike with the connections necessary to launch his career in the financial world. In addition to the educational sessions and group projects, Ike received interviews with representatives from seven Disability:IN corporate partners during and after the conference. While he had several options, Ike held out for an offer from his top-choice company – Accenture. In September 2018, Accenture offered him a position as a Client Financial Management Analyst.
Since participating in Disability:IN’s Mentorship Exchange and Talent Accelerator Programs, Ike has joined Disability:IN’s NextGen alumni group. He hopes to one day be financially independent so he can support disability inclusion full time. His advice to students with disabilities: “There are many tools to level the playing field, and numerous organizations and companies willing to assist you to achieve your goals. Apply for the WRP, the Mentorship Exchange, and the Talent Accelerator programs. And when you meet executives with disabilities who are working for companies interested in hiring you, you will understand your value. You will also understand that having people with disabilities on the team opens the inclusion door for everyone on the team.”
Each Disability:IN NextGen Leaders Program is designed to support students and recent graduates as they navigate the professional world, and answer unique questions that relate to being a person with a disability in the workforce. Email [email protected]in.org for more information on joining the program as a student or recent graduate, or supporting the program as a corporate partner.
NextGen Spotlight: Tasha Bolden
Willette Natasha Bolden – Tasha - navigated life for 40 years as an African American lesbian woman. However, when she also became a person with a disability, her professional story took a new and fulfilling path.
NextGen Spotlight: Grayson Shor
Grayson Shor is a graduate student in the Masters of Arts in International Affairs (MAIA)at George Washington University. He will graduate this spring when he returns from Taiwan where he’s on a U.S. Government fellowship studying at the National Taiwan University.
NextGen Spotlight: Taylor Mickelson
Through our signature education initiatives, we aim to help businesses develop enduring leaders for a more disability inclusive workplace. They are NextGen Leaders. Learn more about how the programs have impacted the life and career of one recent program alumna, Taylor Mickelson.
Student Spotlight: Chris Gaines
Chris wants students with disabilities to appreciate disability in the context of intersectionality. As a Black man with a disability, he has had two societal challenges and is proud to share both selves.
Student Spotlight – Danny Tanchez
The Mentorship Exchange Program connects students like Daniel Tanchez to experts that can provide professional growth and development, and social and economic opportunities.