Students with disabilities from Parsippany High School and other New Jersey high schools and colleges were guests at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. in East Hanover Oct. 17 for the American Association of People with Disabilities' National Disability Mentoring Day.
The purpose of the initiative was to share insights with special-needs young adults about career possibilities and to help build a diverse local future workforce.
The teens and young adults had the opportunity to participate in interactive career sessions giving them insight into their potential futures as part of the state's workforce.
Attendees also heard a keynote speech from Verona resident Scott Chesney, who stood before them as someone to emulate.
Chesney is also disabled. He awakened to paralysis at age 15 from a sudden spinal stroke. Learning to navigate life in a wheelchair, he graduated from Seton Hall University and became a coach and motivational speaker. Over the past 23 years, Chesney has shared his story with more than 1.5 million people in 38 countries.
During his remarks, Chesney told the audience of students, chaperones and company associates that “the only place a true disability can reside is in one’s attitude."
"What you can accomplish has nothing to do with your disabilities and everything to do with your abilities,” he said.
A panel of NPC employees or family members who have disabilities also provided guidance about overcoming obstacles and described their careers.
“Novartis makes people feel welcome no matter who they are,” said Par High student Joseph Otinsky Jr. “What got me the most was how Novartis inspires confidence in people because [they] believe in people.”