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DWD logo

Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary-designee

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2022
CONTACT: DWD Communications
CommunicationsOffice@dwd.wisconsin.gov

DWD, Aspirus Wausau and Riverview Hospitals Celebrate Graduation of 14 Local Project SEARCH Interns

Graduates from the 2022 Aspirus Riverview Project SEARCH class pose for a photo with DWD Assistant Deputy Secretary Danielle Williams.
Graduates from the 2022 Aspirus Riverview Project SEARCH class pose for a photo with DWD Assistant Deputy Secretary Danielle Williams.

Project SEARCH Program Prepares Young Adults with Disabilities for Rewarding Careers

WAUSAU – Travis Peterson came to Project SEARCH from Wausau West High School, where he was on the track team and served as the school's football and basketball manager. With the help and support of his family and teachers, Travis applied to Project SEARCH and overcame several obstacles during the program by being open to new experiences and setting goals for himself.

"I learned more leadership roles and teamwork [through Project SEARCH] and without both of them, a job can't be done," Travis said. "I enjoyed the friends and soon to be co-workers here and had fun through the three rotations we had."

Thanks to Project SEARCH, Travis will be employed at Aspirus Wausau Hospital in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit following graduation.

"The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development celebrates over 180 Project SEARCH graduates throughout the state, who have explored new skills, expanded their opportunities, and earned a sense of pride through rewarding work," said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. "In Wisconsin, some 171,000 people with disabilities are not attached to the labor market, yet we know many want to work. With our record-low unemployment rate, supporting these individuals in achieving their employment potential has never been more important."

Graduates from the 2022 Aspirus Riverview Project SEARCH class pose for a photo with DWD Assistant Deputy Secretary Danielle Williams.
Graduates from the 2022 Aspirus Wausau Hospital Project SEARCH class pose for a photo in their caps and gowns.

The graduation ceremony at the Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center in Rothschild on Thursday, May 19 was one of two Project SEARCH events in the area this week marking the completion of an immersive work experience for Travis and 13 other students participating in the programs at Aspirus Wausau and Aspirus Riverview hospitals. The interns recounted their hands-on experiences and talked about their future career opportunities.

In addition to the host sites, these local internship experiences were made possible by partners including service provider Opportunity Development Centers, Inc. at Aspirus Wausau, long-term care organizations TMG Wisconsin at Aspirus Riverview, and Inclusa and Lakeland Care at both sites, and the Wausau, DC Everest, Merrill, Mosinee, Marathon County Special Education, Wisconsin Rapids, and Nekoosa school districts. This year, 25 premier employers are participating in Project SEARCH statewide.

Project SEARCH is a collaborative effort among state vocational rehabilitation agencies, area schools, local employers, and long-term care organizations to help interns acquire marketable, competitive, and transferable skills that lead to employment. The interns complete multiple 10-week rotations to maximize exposure to different career paths, learning employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills within the business environment.

Graduates from the 2022 Aspirus Riverview Project SEARCH class pose for a photo with DWD Assistant Deputy Secretary Danielle Williams.
Travis Peterson addresses the audience at the 2022 Aspirus Wausau Hospital Project SEARCH graduation ceremony.

Started at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1996, Project SEARCH has provided workforce training to nearly 1,500 Wisconsinites since its statewide launch in 2008. For more information, visit the Project SEARCH Wisconsin website.


ABOUT DWD

Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.