Diane Curtis has worked for Vocational Rehabilitation for over 11 years. She is currently a supervising counselor in the Southern Utah District. Diane is known best for her genuine and caring approach to helping clients find success. Diane's contributions to USOR are many and as you can see by her responses below, she has a passion for the work we do.
What brought you into the profession?
I did not realize until later how my experiences during my childhood shaped the direction I would follow in my career. Growing up I had two family members with disabilities. My aunt Carol had a significant intellectual disability, which at the time I did not understand. She was mostly non-verbal and had her own language, but still managed to communicate her needs. I also had a close cousin with a mild intellectual disability who I was able to spend time with while growing up. I have always been an outgoing and social person who was interested in others and enjoyed getting to know them. Thinking back on even my earliest jobs, I enjoyed the service aspect of helping others.
One of my first positions with the state was as an eligibility worker. I found that I really enjoyed meeting with the clients and being able to assist them in becoming eligible for the financial, food and medical assistance programs. It felt good to know that I could make a difference for that individual or family. I found that I most enjoyed the individuals with disabilities who I met I had a mentor during this time who worked for the Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD). He encouraged me to get back into college and get my Bachelor Degree and come to work with him. I was able to complete my degree and went to work as a support coordinator for DSPD. Most of the individuals I worked with there had significant disabilities. I assisted them with setting goals, following up on progress and helping them focus on things like learning activities of daily living.
I stayed with the DSPD for five years and during that time I interacted with vocational rehabilitation counselors to coordinate services for a few of my clients who were able to work. I talked to one of the VR counselors at length and thought that I would like working there. When I saw a job announcement for a rehabilitation counselor, I put in an application and I was lucky enough to get the position. I can honestly say that I found the work that I am passionate about. I have worked for VR a total of 11 years as a counselor and supervisor.
Where do you get your inspiration to help your clients in VR?
I enjoy meeting with my clients in person. I love the process of getting to know each of them personally (the meeting face to face has been a bit of a challenge this year). I enjoy helping my clients discover and work towards their employment goals. Each client is different in the services they may need and I am always learning about new resources and options to meet these needs. I love being able to help them find those resources and encouraging them to take that first step. When I see my clients working through challenges and addressing issues that are preventing them from being successful and succeeding I find that inspirational. I realize that I won't be able to help all of my clients but for the ones that I can it makes all the difference to me.
What is your fondest memory during your time with VR?
My fondest memories of my time with VR would be our annual conference meetings. I looked forward to that conference all year. I love being able to interact with other VR counselors and staff from all over the state and getting to know them better. It is great to spend some time outside of the office with your coworkers. I have some great memories from time spent with my colleagues at each and every one of those conferences. I can't wait for the next in person annual conferences. I miss seeing all of you in person.