It is the end of the year – a perfect time to reflect on recent experiences. For Hospitality Workers Training Centre, it is the time to celebrate our trainees – for the people they are, for the challenges they have endured and overcome, and for their trust that we have earned.
Here is a short story about one of our recent graduates.
Shanon: New Entrant | Guest Services trainee, 2016
Shanon is a cancer survivor who lost her leg to the disease when she was only 11 years old. Her amputated leg has never slowed her down in pursuing her dreams, but other people’s reaction to her disability has often been a challenge. She recalled the time when she was actively seeking employment. It was her third and final interview for a position at a large organization. She was hopeful and excited as most people would be after being called back for a third round. But when the interviewer came out to call her in and noticed her missing leg, he simply thanked her and asked her to leave right away.
“I lost my leg, not my mind. But sometimes that goes unnoticed.”
Her intelligence, creativity, and capacity to work hard made her a perfect fit for customer service – the pursuit of which eventually brought her to Hospitality Workers Training Centre. Although she was unemployed at the time she met us, she was still very skeptical about starting a new career in hospitality. In her opinion, hospitality industry thrived on perfection – and the pursuit of perfection could sometimes be unfair and heartbreaking.
In her first meeting at HWTC, she was pleasantly surprised when her disability was not highlighted as an issue by the program manager in charge. Instead, her abilities were focused on to find the suitable course for her.
“My disability does not define me. I don’t live with a disabled personality. I cherish every person who can understand that.”
Shanon was always a high achiever in her life. With her father’s belief in her abilities, she learnt to ski after losing her leg and competed on a national level in the Paralympics as a child. She also went to film school and has been involved in many creative projects over the years. Continuing this trend of being a high achiever, she did very well in her Guest Services training at HWTC. After her training, she found employment as a Front Desk Agent/Night Auditor at Walper Hotel, Kitchener and has already received named reviews from customers in a short period of time. Soon she would be off the Ontario Disability Support (ODSP) and is excited for that day to come.
“I am independent and able-bodied. It would make me very happy to get off ODSP and make room for one more person who deserves it more.”
Shanon is an active advocate for disability inclusion in the workplace and wishes to support Hospitality Workers Training Centre [HWTC] in reaching out to people and motivating them to cherish abilities rather than question disabilities. She is also working on a film concept, in which the protagonist is a female super-hero with one leg.
Photo credit: Soofia Mahmood