You are currently viewing A Message from Natalie, our Community Relations Coordinator

A Message from Natalie, our Community Relations Coordinator

It’s hard to believe that I’ve worked with the Foundation for almost a year now. In truth, I in no way expected to be on this journey.

My opportunity with the Foundation began with the help of the Fehribach Center at Eskenazi Health. The Center provides professional-level, full-time internships for students with physical disabilities. The goal is to show professional employers that stigma does not have to be attached to disability; a physical disability does not inhibit one’s capability to work in a professional setting.

An advisor informed me of my opportunity to join the internship program during my junior year of college. I got lucky because they had just expanded their reach to more colleges throughout Indiana, including where I attended. If I had been introduced to the opportunity even a year later, my experience would not have been the same. I then went through three summer internships. The first was pre-pandemic and the perfect opportunity to explore independence while living in Indianapolis for the summer. The second,  mid-pandemic and remote, served as a great experience and point of safety because I had just lost the end of my senior year and every opportunity that came along with it.

This past summer was different. My past experiences and goals taught me that I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally. I’m a writer and poet whose subject matter centers around women’s issues, yet I wanted to be an editor. Until that happened, I told myself I would be satisfied just doing the work and not fulfilled by the work that I was doing. During my 2021 placement interview, I decided to be honest about how I had gotten very good at pretending like I knew what I wanted to do.

Knowing me, my strengths, and my passions, director and manager of the program, Larry Markle and Carlos Taylor, took a chance when they put me in touch with Pass the Torch. I was overwhelmed with excitement for the opportunity to utilize everything I love.

The opportunity, of course, hasn’t come without its moments of growth personally and professionally. When I started, I was incredibly unsure of myself and fearful I would ruin this chance by making mistakes. I’m also anxious when talking and meeting new people. My position at the Foundation has given me the space to work on all of this in a safe environment whose mission empowers me as I empower others.

I was not naive enough to believe that I was guaranteed a full-time job position at the end of my internship. I didn’t even want to entertain the idea that it could have been a possibility for fear of disappointment. I just knew the work I was doing with our communities meant something. I could see the direct impact my involvement had on people. That was enough for me.

All this to say, I’m still here.

In December, I took a position as a full-time employee. Since then, I have continued to uphold the Pass the Torch mission and uphold my values as a disabled woman to empower others,  similar to how my opportunities and mentors have done for me.

What a year it’s been. A year full of change, growth, and opportunity. I can promise that there’s more to come. Sooner than you think.

I’ll leave you with this: it’s okay to not know where you’re going to end up. The people that believe in you just might guide you where you need to be.