EAT HANOVER, NJ - An estimated 100 students from 14 New Jersey schools -- including a group from Summit High School -- recently participated in Novartis' 11th annual 'Disability Mentoring Day'. The “I CAN” theme was incorporated into onsite activities, designed to increase confidence and help inspire the students for their future career paths.  

Keynote speaker, Scott Chesney delivered an inspiring talk highlighting his ‘I CAN’ spirit which describes his determination to live a fulfilling life after being left paralyzed from a sudden spinal stroke. Chesney is a world traveler and adventurer and is President of Raise Hope Foundation, which trains, mentors and places those with disabilities and veterans for careers in financial services.  His inspirational speech focused on empowerment and the pursuit of dreams.

“Scott’s inspirational message was uplifting to us all and showed that his disability does not hold him back from whatever he wishes to achieve in life,”  Bryant Aaron, Vice President & Chief Compliance Officer at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and U.S. Country Head, Ethics &. Compliance.

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Companies with strong inclusion policies were invited to participate in the career fair held onsite. Students were able to interact with organizations and discuss opportunities available after high school.  One attending company representative said, “I was inspired by the students’ enthusiasm about different job opportunities and how they were excited about our company’s involvement in the community.”

The students were also introduced to the concept of mindfulness. Yoga instructor and mindfulness practitioner, Karen Felix showed the students how to tap into their own “I CAN” spirit by using mindfulness to increase confidence.  “Mindfulness is hitting the pause button and being present in the moment you’re in,” she said. 

'National Disability Mentoring Day' is sponsored nationally by the American Association of People with Disabilities.