Miguel Sanchez and Kate Gilson-Miranda, former participants of the HDS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. program at Cypress Bay High School, understand the importance of developing social skills that will help them throughout their lifetime. Both students completed their High School education and graduated from Cypress Bay.
Miguel, who graduated in 2015, immersed himself in post-secondary programs such as the S.T.E.P.S. Into Employment Program at The Dan Marino Foundation and the employment path programs at Marino Campus. These programs helped Miguel achieve gainful employment at HDS Companies, where he was employed in the ASDY-TECH (Autism Spectrum Disorder Young Adults Technicians) Employment Training and Mentoring Program, a micro-enterprise entity of the HDS Foundation. Miguel served as a Digital Tech for a large-scale project to convert paper files to digital documents. While working on this project, Miguel simultaneously worked as a part-time stock associate at a Nautica retail store at a local Simon Mall Property. Today, Miguel is gainfully employed as a team member at Publix Super Markets.
Kate graduated in 2016 and pursued her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. She graduated in the Spring of 2022 Cum Laude from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Early Childhood Development and a minor in Disability Services. At UNF, she participated in the THRIVE Program, which supports degree-seeking students on the Autism Spectrum with mentoring and skill-building activities. Kate started her teaching career in the Fall of 2022 and looks forward to bringing her own experiences as she embarks on her career path.
Kate and Miguel are aware of the advantages of enhancing social skills and the significance of inclusion in school and the workplace. Even though they are both very busy with work, they make time to participate in peer groups and get together with friends, mentors, and other networks as active young adults to broaden their horizons. Although they currently live in different cities hundreds of miles away, they always make time to catch up and build on their friendship which has lasted over a decade.
Focusing on particular abilities and transitional skills throughout high school and beyond can drastically alter the outcomes for people on the autism spectrum. The best examples we have to showcase how this is possible are Kate and Miguel. Both view their neurodiversity as an asset, and the team at HDS Foundation is incredibly proud of their accomplishments and successes.
The HDS Foundation’s Give Miami Fundraiser aims to continue supporting the work that we are doing in partnership with local high schools to carry out the HDS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Programs. Please visit the HDS Foundation website at hdsfoundation.org to make your pledge today, or donate on Give Miami Day this November 17, 2022, at givemiamiday.org/hdsfoundation.