A young man who uses a wheelchair and has limited hand use is a whiz at technology; he competes successfully for a full-time information technology position at Virginia Tech.

A woman learns a new career after acquiring a disability and transitions into an administrative career.

The friendly, reliable person with a passion for the Hokies becomes a valued employee receiving minor accommodations for a cognitive disability.

These success stories and many others like them resulted in Virginia Tech being selected as a 2008 Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services Employment Champion.

In his letter of congratulations, James Rothrock, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services wrote that Virginia Tech’s “commitment to support and promote the skills and talents of individuals with disabilities serves as a role model to Virginia businesses and our communities.”

The Disability Employment Champions Award honors individuals and organizations in public, private, and non-profit sectors who have “championed” the employment of people with disabilities through partnership with the Department of Rehabilitative Services and/ or other service agencies. Past awardees have included the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., and Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine for his support of the Virginia Medicaid Buy-In Program.

“This award acknowledges the commitment of the staff in the Office of University ADA Services and all the people across the campus who work everyday to make Virginia Tech a disability friendly employer,” said Hal Irvin, associate vice president for human resources.

Christina “Christy” Lowe, staffing and recruiting specialist in human resources, traveled to Richmond to accept the award on behalf of Virginia Tech.

“Here at Virginia Tech, we are lucky to have a community that supports hiring of people with disabilities,” said Lowe. “It is part of our Principles of Community to treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

Lowe has worked with other staff in human resources to collaborate with the Department of Rehabilitative Services to recruit, place and retain employees with disabilities. The results of that collaboration match the raft of retention studies over the years that show employees with disabilities are apt to remain in jobs for the long term.

In addition to Virginia Tech, other 2008 employment champions were Northrop Grumman, Hyatt, Fluor, Kroger, Goodwill Industries, Comcast, Boddie-Noell, and Audie Gaddis as the individual entrepreneur.

Read more about the Disability Employment Champions Award.