Program gives college students, recent grads with disabilities work experience

Kathryn Manly, a Clayton State University senior, recently completed the Workforce Recruitment Program with the 78th Medical Group at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. To learn more about the program, visit www.wrp.gov. (U.S. Air Force photo by Shane Warren)

Kathryn Manly, a Clayton State University senior, recently completed the Workforce Recruitment Program with the 78th Medical Group at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. To learn more about the program, visit www.wrp.gov. (U.S. Air Force photo by Shane Warren)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

The Workforce Recruitment Program, also called WRP, is opening doors for people with disabilities.

The program is a recruitment and referral tool that connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with disabled college students and recent graduates eager to prove their abilities in the workplace through temporary summer or permanent jobs.

For Kathryn Manly, a Clayton State University senior studying chemistry and physics, the program opened a door to work experience and personal growth she may not have otherwise acquired.

Stewart Crow, Disabilities Program manager at Robins, said WRP supports one of the base’s important goals.

“Robins Air Force Base takes pride in striving to be a model employer for individuals with disabilities and is committed to maximizing opportunities to strengthen their work experience while supporting the mission,” he said.     

The program, co-sponsored by the Department of Defense and the Department of Labor, awards internships funded by DOD at no cost to the organization acquiring the intern.

Manly, who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, discovered the WRP through her disability coordinator and academic coach at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia.

She seized the opportunity of becoming an intern in the 78th Medical Group’s Clinical Laboratory, performing various research and clerical tasks to support the lab’s mission.

“I gained so much positive experience from the Workforce Recruitment Program summer internship at Robins,” she said. “I saw how people with disabilities and the Air Force community work well together because we both share common values and skills in being resilient and adaptive.”
Master Sgt. Beth Wakefield, 78th Medical Support Squadron Clinical Laboratory Flight chief, said Manly was a huge help.

“She ensured the lab was in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines by helping us to convert 60 Material Safety Data sheets to the new Safety Data Sheet format,” she said. “She verified the documents, matched the product on hand and called manufacturers when necessary.

“She also improved the laboratories’ records management files,” she added.

Wakefield said the internship program was a great opportunity for her unit.

“I strongly recommend this opportunity to both potential interns and other units,” she said. “Interns gain additional insight into their chosen field and the complexities of working with the military, while receiving a paycheck. 

“Units gain huge force multiplier capabilities and the opportunity to showcase their job and the Air Force to those still deciding their career path” she said.