Being the "rock star" and quick learner that he is, it didn't take Kevin Arriaza very long to find his way around and through the miles of hallways in the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in downtown Minneapolis -- which is a good thing because he has important work to do!
Kevin, who is 22, is a Central Processing Technician I and spends his work days collecting medical equipment throughout the expansive hospital campus and bringing it back to the labs in the basement of the Blue Building where he sterilizes it. He then packages and delivers it all back to the proper departments and locations.
"I'm always on the move which I like," said Kevin. "It's very physical and I get to interact with a lot of people. Everyone here is very nice and helps each other. In the beginning, if I got lost on my route, I could ask anyone for directions. Now I can help people find their way around."
Kevin's last year at South High School in Minneapolis included a year spent with Transition Plus Services and Project SEARCH through which he had a three-department rotational internship at HCMC. He worked in a the mail room, Central Processing, and administrative offices.
Project SEARCH is a collaborative program for students in their last year of high school and has multiple participating entities, including Rise, HCMC, the Minneapolis Public Schools, Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Hennepin County Developmental Disabilities Services, and the Minnesota Department of Education.
Kevin completed the Project SEARCH program and graduated from high school in June 2016. Rise Employment Consultant Ebony Johnson assisted Kevin with his career planning and job search. She continues to follow up with him about twice a month to help ensure all goes well on the job.
"Kevin was a standout among his Project SEARCH group," said Ebony. "His HCMC co-workers found him to be reliable, dependable, and a quick learner. In every department that he interned, HCMC staff wrote him rave reviews and said they enjoyed working with him. Most importantly, he is very kind."
Kevin enjoyed working in Central Processing and was excited to be hired by Universal Health Services, which contracts with HCMC, in July 2016.
Even after a busy day at HCMC, Kevin isn't quite done working. He also works in the evenings as a dishwasher in Maeve's Café, a neighborhood coffee house in Northeast Minneapolis.
"It was my first job and I really like it there," said Kevin who has worked at Maeve's for more than two years.
In what little free time he has, Kevin enjoys spending it with his family. He also loves drawing and photography.
"And I'm going back to school," said Kevin emphatically. "I'm not sure exactly when I will go to Minneapolis Community and Technical College, but I know that I will!"