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Strong support system helps BW alumna secure dream career

Photo fo Gabriella Drago with her guide dog, FreesiaWith a desire to become a music therapist and support from Baldwin Wallace University professors and staff, Gabriella Drago '19 graduated from college and is now employed as director of life enrichment with Kendal at Grandville, a retirement community in Grandville, Ohio.

Drago was recently featured on the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities' "OOD Works" podcast, where she discussed her journey as a blind college student.

Support in overcoming challenges

Achieving her goal of becoming a music therapist did not come without its share of challenges. Accessible versions of textbooks and Braille music weren't always easy to come by. "Sometimes, people don't talk about it, but having a disability can take a toll on your mental health," Drago said. "You can't do it all alone. Having a support system makes it so much easier."

Drago encountered unique hurdles during her college years and was grateful for the faculty and staff who helped in unexpected ways. While waiting for accessible versions of textbooks through BW Disability Services, her music therapy professors went above and beyond by personally reading and recording the first few chapters. They also collaborated with Drago in creating music notation systems that allowed her to participate at the same level as her classmates.

Employment path similar to others

Drago's path from college to workplace was not unlike that which others experience. "I applied for hundreds of jobs … completed 30 interviews and received two job offers," she shared, but the process took several months of consistent dedication.

"Interviewing at those places allowed me to see those weren't the places for me … In the end, you want to be with an employer that sees what you have to offer and is going to value and support you the most," said Drago.

To listen to the podcast or download the transcript, visit ood.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/ood/about-us/communications/podcasts.

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