ROTC enlists local teens with disabilities

Caitlyn Wachovec

High school students part of new program

James Wychert, a high school student, works at the ROTC building twice a week for two hours. Wychert folds T-shirts and puts together information packets for the ROTC. Caitlin Sirse | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Hudson High School senior Jaymes Wychert rides the bus to Kent State Air Force ROTC twice a week to work as a part of the Transition Collaborative.

The Transition Collaborative at Kent State works with local schools to coordinate on-campus jobs for high school students with disabilities. Project director Babette Cameron said the program does its best to place the students in specific jobs based on their personal interests.

“They’ll never be the soldier, but they can be around that,” Cameron said.

Capt. Robert McGowan provides tasks for Wychert based on his skills and ability to succeed.

“It’s not just busy work. It’s stuff he has to think about,” McGowan said. “He’s done really well.”

Wychert is one of two students ROTC has enlisted for the Kent State Transition Collaborative.

Transition coordinator Meghan Herraiz, a graduate student at Kent State, supervises Wychert’s success at ROTC. Herraiz said McGowan always makes sure Wychert knows the point of his tasks.

“It helps Jaymes understand his job better,” she said.

Wychert said McGowan has his daily jobs planned for him when he arrives in the morning. His job includes putting together recruitment packets, folding T-shirts and organizing uniforms and supplies.

With a wide variety of tasks, Wychert said his favorite is stapling.

“I like it because it’s an automatic stapler,” he said. “It sounds like a staple gun.”

He has had other jobs before ROTC, but Herraiz said Wychert enjoys this job because of his interactions with the students and staff.

The best part of the job at ROTC is “the people I meet,” Wychert said.

“He is always excited when he gets off the bus and is very excited at any chance to talk with Capt. McGowan or other ROTC professors,” Herraiz said. “Capt. McGowan has done an excellent job of making Jaymes feel welcome and important to the success of the ROTC program.”

Contact ROTC reporter Caitlyn Wachovec at [email protected].