Options for Community Living, Inc. , a Long Island not-for-profit serving people with chronic physical and mental illnesses has been a proud partner of the Stony Brook University (SBU) Diversity Professional Leadership Network (DPLN) program since 2015. On Friday, May 4th Options was recognized by the SBU Career Center with the Diversity Partner of the Year Award for its commitment to the program.
Developed by SBU Assistant Director of Employer Relations & Diversity Kimberly Joy Dixon and the SBU Career Center, DPLN is designed to help students develop their knowledge of various career paths, enhance their “soft skills” and increase their job readiness. “We are particularly grateful that Options for Community Living has served as a DPLN host company,” said Dixon. “Options is the only health and human services related agency in our program, enabling us to offer this opportunity to students in the health field.”
DPLN program students are dedicated to learning and driven to succeed. They are required to have a minimum 3.0 GPA as well as demonstrated leadership skills to participate in the program. Students are matched with a professional mentor for the entire school year at the beginning of the fall semester. SBU Senior Jamilah Pierre, from Uniondale, was paired with Options Executive Director Yolanda Robano-Gross for the 2017-2018 academic year. “Jamilah is a dedicated student who is willing to go above and beyond the requirements of the DPLN program to achieve the best possible experience,” said Robano-Gross. “Anytime Jamilah was approached with a new learning opportunity, she was excited to participate and only declined when something would interfere directly with her school work.”
Pierre’s willingness to participate allowed her to visit and learn about Options’ administrative office functions, supportive housing programs, community residences, greenhouse, thrift shop as well as to attend meetings with other health and human services agencies. Robano-Gross has “greatly appreciated having a student as ambitious as Jamilah. The next student I mentor will have big shoes to fill,” she stated.
An active SBU community member, Pierre believes that the DPLN program has complemented her growth as a student leader and will enhance her job-seeking skills. “DPLN is designed to provide students with a plethora of opportunities to succeed and to grow. The more you put into the program, the more you get out of it,” she said. Her experience shadowing Robano-Gross – her first professional mentor in the field – has been rewarding and informative. “Ms. Robano-Gross has a wealth of information about the health and human services sector from many years of experience in the field and in management positions. She is an excellent example of what an executive should be like – someone who knows all of her employees as well as all of the myriad details of the agency she expertly manages,” Pierre described.
Photo Caption (l to r): Options for Community Living Executive Director Yolanda Robano-Gross mentors SBU Diversity Professional Leadership Network (DPLN) student Jamilah Pierre.