At Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS), we are pleased to share a variety of stories and the journey of our job candidates in finding meaningful employment. We have assisted numerous Iowans with securing jobs in which they have been able to flourish–as carpenters, information specialists, entrepreneurs, and more. However, it is something special when we are able to place those who use our services with our own agency.

Douglas has been a vocational counselor out of our Des Moines Area Office since December of 2019, but his history with Vocational Rehabilitation goes much further back. After earning his GED, Doug owned an antique store and ran a bed and breakfast on Lake Superior. Once he sought out Vocational Rehabilitation services, Doug was sent to Northern Iowa Vocational Center (NIVC) for training.

Soon enough, he was hired onto NIVC’s team and worked there for over 10 years while he completed his education. Where Doug had once struggled to complete a high-school assessment, he earned his associates degree in psychology from Mason City Community College, his bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University in psychology, human services, and organizational management, as well as his master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Drake University–all with exemplary grades.

“Voc rehab helped me through the whole thing. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” says Doug.

Doug is a phenomenal example of how much of a difference using our services can make in one’s life. But although IVRS was able to provide accommodations and services for Doug, the true defining factor of his success was his motivation to take control of his career and his life.

“When I meet with a job candidate, I like to let them know that I was sitting right where they were sitting, that I have disabilities, I have anxiety, but I make myself do it anyway. It's just how bad do I want it?” says Doug.

Doug is dedicated to IVRS’s mission and believes in the success of each individual job candidate that he has the pleasure of working with. He continues to be a great asset to the team and we are grateful for his sustained efforts.

Through working at IVRS and being a person with disabilities, Doug aspires to help destigmatize disability services and encourage job candidates to advocate for themselves.

"If I’m humiliated and won’t share, how can I expect my candidates to learn how to ask for accommodations, to learn how to go out in the community and advocate for themselves?” says Doug.