Student Spotlight – Danny Tanchez
Disability:IN highlights various young leaders with disabilities in the NextGen Leaders Student Stories Spotlight Series. If you are a corporate partner (or potential partner), and would like more information about the Disability:IN Mentorship Exchange Program, or you are a young leader with a disability and would like more information on the Mentorship Exchange Program or the Talent Accelerator Program, applications and FAQs are available on the Disability:IN website.
The number of students with disabilities attending higher education in the United States now represents 6% of the student body. As with any graduate, their professional success will stem from a number of things, including work ethic, opportunity, and, for some, having a mentor to guide them.
Quality mentoring relationships have a powerful effect on young people in a variety of situations – personally, academically and professionally. Initiatives like the Disability:IN Mentorship Exchange Program were created to further those opportunities. This six-month career mentoring strategy brings together employers with college students with disabilities and recent graduates with disabilities in a mutually beneficial way. Through Disability:IN’s network of over 160 corporate partners, we match at least 70 individuals to business professionals in their field of study, area of interest, and to whom they would not otherwise have access. The Mentorship Exchange Program connects students like Daniel Tanchez to experts that can provide professional growth and development, and social and economic opportunities.
Daniel “Danny” Tanchez grew up in South Florida, and participated in a pre-med curriculum offered at his high school. He was inspired by his teacher, a physician who was a Johns Hopkins graduate. As an excellent student, he was accepted at several top universities, but chose to attend Johns Hopkins, like the teacher he so admired. This spring, Danny graduated with a Bachelor’s in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.
Prior to moving to Baltimore to begin college, Danny received some startling news. He was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia, a progressive neuromuscular condition that causes progressive damage to the nervous system. He also learned he liked to create mechanical things. So, during freshman orientation he sought out several engineers and switched his major to Chemical Engineering.
During Danny’s second year at Hopkins, his mobility started to decrease. His new circumstances motivated him to learn about the university’s disability resources. Danny discovered that Hopkins has a Student Disability Services office. With their help, he received various helpful accommodations. During his four years at Hopkins, Danny was actively involved in both campus disability and Hispanic issues. He was a Founding Board Member of the Johns Hopkins University Disability Advisory Board, Co-President of Advocates for Disability Awareness (ADA), and President of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). In addition to creating a peer mentoring program for incoming students with disabilities, the ADA’s advocacy led to moving the Student Disability Services office from an upper floor in a building with a frequently non-functioning elevator to a first-floor office.
In his Junior year, Danny was accepted into the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). Through the WRP, he learned about the Disability:IN Mentorship Exchange Program. He applied, and was matched with Bob Vetere, Corporate Manager, Disability Partnerships for Northrop Grumman Corporation. Over the next two years, Danny secured an internship position at Northrop Grumman Corporation, and a spot in Disability:IN’s Talent Accelerator career readiness and networking academy. Today, Danny is a Systems Engineer in Northrop Grumman’s Professional Development Program.
Because he recognized the value of career advancement disability programs, Danny not only graduated from college with a great job in his field, he was able to adjust his mindset, truly believing he will be the most successful version of Danny he can be.
According to Bob Vetere, “mentoring Danny was truly a joy as well as a reciprocal relationship. His spirit and inner strength inspired me. Danny is a natural leader. Everything he does is done to benefit others, others he will most likely never meet. As a person with a disability myself, I feel secure in the knowledge that our progress in the workplace and in society will not just continue, but move forward at a much faster pace, thanks to young leaders like Danny Tanchez.”
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. Applications are now being accepted for all NextGen Programs. Visit https://disabilityin.org/what-we-do/nextgen-leaders/ for more information about the programs.
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