The John F. Kennedy, Jr. Institute for Worker Education
Awards Fellowships to Three F·E·G·S Staff Members
Promoting the higher education and career advancement of frontline workers in health, education, and human services occupations has been a hallmark of the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Institute for Worker Education since Kennedy founded it in 1989.
One of the Institute’s most prestigious programs is the Kennedy Fellows Scholarship and Career Mentoring Program. The program acknowledges individuals who have demonstrated achievement in the field of disabilities and recognizes dedicated staff members who are continuing their studies towards a degree. The awards carry a $750 stipend per semester for up to four semesters. In addition, Fellows have the opportunity to benefit from career development mentoring by a professional in a health, education, or social service agency, or by a CUNY faculty member who serves as a role model, career sponsor, and academic advisor.
Three staff members from the Developmental Disabilities Division of F·E·G·S Health and Human Services System are among the latest awardees selected to participate in this outstanding program.
The three are: Solace Adzadi, Residential Habilitation Assistant at the Avenue L Individual Residential Alternative in Brooklyn; Christiana Ayanfodun, Senior Residential Habilitation Assistant at the Lawrence (L.I.) Individualized Residence Alternative; and Patrick Eubanks, Manager for the Avenue L Individualized Residential Alternative in Brooklyn. All are currently attending the City University of New York (CUNY).
“We get hundreds of applications each year,” said Lyda Clifton, Director of the Kennedy Fellows program and Deputy Director of the Kennedy Institute. “The competition is tough, and only about 36 are chosen. We look for individuals with ‘promise’ for whom the program will make the most difference.”
John Kennedy, Jr. had two major goals for the program, according to Clifton. “First, he believed that by providing educational opportunities for frontline workers and by raising the standards of the professionals in the field, Kennedy felt that clients would also benefit from better care,” said Clifton. “Second, he specifically chose to make this a program that focuses on the New York City community, which he felt very much part of,” she said.
“It’s exciting and exhausting,” said Patrick Eubanks, one of this year’s Fellows, who has worked for F·E·G·S for more than ten years. “Between attending CUNY as a Kennedy Fellow, working full-time, and making time for my 10 year-old son, the one constant thing in my life is change. I’m constantly redoing my schedule, I only get four or five hours of sleep a day, and I live on caffeine,” he said. Still, he wouldn’t have it any other way: “It’s a positive experience, it’s made me more efficient, and it has given me a different perspective on how I do my job.”
Since 1992, some 20 F·E·G·S staff members have been recognized as Kennedy Fellows and many F·E·G·S administrators have become mentors.
Tobie Buford, an F·E·G·S Developmental Disabilities Unit Coordinator and a 1995 Kennedy Fellow, said the program had benefited her in several ways. “It enabled me to network with other Kennedy fellows at a number of special seminars and forums, to work with an outstanding mentor, and to meet leaders in government and politics whom I probably would never have met if not for the program.
“Most important,” she continued, “it has reaffirmed my decision to remain in the field of developmental disabilities and has deepened my commitment to my work and to the people we serve. I have now become a mentor in the program.”
“The staff members chosen for this honor represent the kind of dedication and professionalism that have helped F·E·G·S maintain standards of quality and continually learn and enhance its programs and services to each individual and family,” said Lee Rambeau, F·E·G·S Senior Vice President for Developmental Disabilities Services. She noted that Kim Richards, an F·E·G·S employee, is one of only two Kennedy Fellows who serves on the board of the Kennedy Institute.
“We are proud of our dynamic relationship with the Institute that goes back more than a dozen years and we look forward to continuing to partner with the Kennedy Institute in this very important endeavor,” Rambeau said.·