photo of Michael GraceMichael Grace II has been an SBVC student, off and on, since summer 1998. His journey has been punctuated by life’s challenges, but that hasn’t deterred him from his goals.

Although he has bi-lateral hearing loss and serious vision problems, Michael lives each day with a positive outlook.

Through counselors at the San Bernardino County Department of Rehabilitation, Michael was connected with SBVC’s WorkAbility Department, which transitions students back into school and the workplace after injuries.

“At that point in my life, I was taking any resource I could to get direction in life,” Michael said.

SBVC WorkAbility coordinator Regina Ross helped Michael prepare for the job hunt with mock interviews, résumé writing tips and a primer on dressing for the workplace.

“Even though I have my setbacks I’ve learned that the disabilities don’t have to be what holds me back. With the help of WorkAbility, I will push forward and now understand that I have skills and deserve a chance like everybody else and will make it work for me,” Michael said.

Michael has continued taking classes at SBVC, but has faced hurdles caused by many eye surgeries. Over the years, he’s been forced to drop several classes mid-semester to have another procedure.

“Sometimes, it’s been hard to keep myself motivated after having to stop and start so many times because of the surgeries,” Michael said. “I’ve come to realize that everybody is different and to never compare yourself to other people or you’ll sell yourself short. What works for some people will not work for all.”

Michael’s goals stretch beyond an Associate’s degree. He wants to go into psychology and/or psychiatry and help people work through similar emotional boundaries and confidence issues.

“I used to be ashamed to wear my hearing aids, but my dad always told me that nobody knows what's wrong with you until you tell them,” Michael said. “The way I look at it, Barack Obama wasn't always President. You've got to start somewhere and commit yourself to your goals.”