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Students with Disabilities Benefit from Florida Blue/UNF Partnership
Florida Blue and the University of North Florida (UNF) are partnering to give students with disabilities a chance to begin their careers while managing their academic responsibilities. “We identified 10 positions in the Federal Employee Program (FEP) claims’ unit and specifically recruited UNF students with disabilities registered with the Disability Resource Center (DRC),” explained Megan Mauney, Accessibility Consultant with Florida Blue. “These are part-time Florida Blue employees who have flexibility built into their schedule to encourage success at school”, said Mauney. The DRC primarily provides classroom assistance to students with disabilities that include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, deafness, blindness, traumatic brain injuries, and physical and psychological disorders. In fiscal year 2013-2014, the center provided accommodations to 876 students. “The first group of student employees will learn claims’ entry and then continue to grow their skills once each task is mastered,” Greg Swift, a Senior Director at Florida Blue, explained. He then added, “the goal is for these employees to transition quickly into other roles in the organization and for us to leverage this opportunity as a recruiting tool and to partner with UNF on future efforts.” Mauney praised FEP leaders and representatives of the possAbilities employee resource group, who collaborated to bring the UNF program participants to Florida Blue. Susan Towler, Vice President of Florida Blue’s Foundation and the Executive Director of Community Relations, is proud of the partnership as well. She noted: “…the Foundation has been financially supporting the Disability Resource Center at UNF for more than three years [and it’s part of the reason] they have been able to better accommodate students with disabilities at college and develop outreach programs to work with businesses like Florida Blue. This hiring program is a great extension of our existing partnership!” The hiring partnership with UNF is just one example of several initiatives Florida Blue is tackling to break down barriers for individuals with disabilities. We also offer ongoing training, networking opportunities at National conferences and we are collaborating with local agencies to improve employment and access to health care for all people in Florida.
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Bernard Holmes works in Enterprise Communication at Florida Blue in Jacksonville. He and his wife relocated from Akron, Ohio six years ago. Needless to say, they do not miss those frigid, snowy days in Northeast Ohio and have easily adjusted to the sunny Florida climate (year-round golf: it’s a beautiful thing!). Bernard now applies his extensive communications experience at three major companies to his job of engaging employees on what’s happening in health care, both at Florida Blue and in the industry.