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Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you try, you still can't succeed. I have a learning disability and have a hard time in social situations. School was not easy for me. I also have a hard time talking to people. I am autistic. And I had a problem finding a job.

Finally after about 55 interviews and over 200 applications, I got a job that is awesome at an awesome company. I work in the warehouse at REI which is right by my house.

They really care about people who have disabilities. They even had a disability awareness training for the employees. Nobody treats me like I'm different. Everyone is very nice to me. I have super nice bosses who stop by to check on me and tell me when I worked so fast I was the #1 order picker. It makes me feel good. I am very happy working there. I start at 6:00 am which is great and get off at 2:30.

Here's the story of how I got to this point.

When I was in high school, I entered an art contest. My mom helped me to mat the photograph I was entering. It looked awesome, and I said, "Finally, something I'm good at." (My mom gets goosebumps when she tells this part).

Well, my photograph won (you can see it on the My Photos page). I was so happy, I decided to be a photographer when I graduated. I went to Phoenix College and majored in digital photography, and even though I had a hard time, I graduated. I wanted to get a bachelors degree in photography but the college I wanted to go to cost $80,000. I couldn't go to ASU because the photography program required you to pass calculus and I can't even do basic math. My mom learned that Bellevue University (a real university) had a program in graphic design. Since I had experience with computer programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, I began studying there.

My mom started a photography business with me so that I could learn to be a photographer and work with clients. Look at our website by clicking here. We've been doing this for about 4 years but I know I can't do this on my own. I have a hard time driving far (but I do have my license) and I have a hard time talking to people to do the selling. But I like taking photographs especially of little kids. And it was good experience for me though.

When I graduated I started to apply for jobs. I was so excited when I got hired at a national photography chain in a department store. I went through the training and was doing great. Then one day the new manager took me aside and said, "You have some kind of disability." I told her that I did. She told me that I should have indicated that I had a disability. She then told me that I would not be successful in the studio. She said it would be too hard for me and that I should go home and think about it, but that there wasn't anything I could do working there.

I went home and cried. My mother wanted to file a claim with a government organization the EEOC but I didn't want anyone to know that I wasn't good enough. I really liked working there. The girls I worked with were really nice and we went to lunch together and everything.

So I kept trying to find a job. I interviewed at some places but then didn't get hired. At McDonalds, I didn't even get an interview because I didn't pass the math test.

I'm interned in a year-long transition training program called Project SEARCH. I was supposed to be working in the print shop in the Deer Valley School District, but the manager there didn't want any interns with disabilities anymore. So I did the mail run but it was really easy.

I was very frustrated. My mom read about how some young adults with disabilities and autism are starting their own business. I was inspired by Matt Resnick who started a company baking biscotti. You can read about him by clicking here. I was also inspired by Matt Cottle who started The Stuttering King Bakery. It would be so cool to meet them.

So I decided that I was going to start my own company. I did a lot of research on businesses that others with disabilities were starting and I decided that I was going to create stuff since that's what I like to do. I am beginning with jewelry but you should:

Check back often because you never know what I'll create next.

I still wanted to work at a company though. I thought I would be really good working in a copy center. I have experience using copiers from high school and I know the programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. I could also work as a helper to a photographer that would be really really cool.

But even Basha's wouldn't hire me to bag groceries and collect the carts in the parking lot.

So I am very thankful that REI hired me. I have been working there since the middle of July and I love it. It makes me happy to go to work and be like everybody else.

Thanks for reading my story. Check out the items in my store or explore more of my website.

And if you are wondering what I look like, here's me (a few years ago in California).

me