This piece was contributed by Gayatri Sitaraman, a student intern who spent time with the Microsoft Asia HQ Citizenship team in July 2014.
Following a car crash that paralyzed her from the chest down, Vương Thị Bích Việt, better known as ‘Jenny’, was at a loss about how to move forward with her life. She tried a variety of careers supposedly suited to those with disabilities, but each was a disappointment due to a lack of fulfillment.
At a skills class, Jenny discovered her love of creative writing. She was inspired, and wrote voraciously to improve, soon turning her passion into a profession, publishing several books and works in a variety of media.
Jenny decided to use her writing skills to help others who faced similar physical challenges. “Wanting to help people who shared the same situation as me, I voluntarily taught English at a vocational training center for people with disabilities.” However, Jenny did not stay long. “Even though I tried hard to finish work as well as I could, and my relationships with the students was good, the nature of this job did not satisfy me.”
Jenny felt that she was not reaching her true potential. She describes herself as “active and creative” but was restrained in her endeavors due to others’ assumptions about her condition and abilities.
Wanting to do more, Jenny enrolled herself in a Youth Training and Innovation Center (YTIC) course at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology. After completing the course, she was offered a job at ICANTO (an organization that provides vocational guidance and educational development). “That was an unforgettable moment that changed my life. I also met and was awarded the certificate by Ms. Clair Deevy, Corporate Citizenship Lead for Microsoft Asia Pacific.”
Discovering the benefits of technology enabled Jenny to find a career that not only accommodates her disability but also challenges and interests her. “Technology plays an important role in life. It is a bridge, a tool for disabled people like me to experience life more easily. Now I can telecommute. It means I do not need to go to the office every day. I send emails, write reports and take care of my customers online.”
Jenny says young people have trouble finding work after graduating due to a lack of soft skills needed to adapt to a brand new environment. She believes that digital literacy can help the younger population of Vietnamese by providing essential skills often sought after by employers.
Microsoft YouthSpark, called YTIC in Vietnam, provides Microsoft Office skills and other employment related skills to Vietnamese youth, enhancing their ability in the job search, and ultimately helping them become more competitive candidates.
Looking to the future, Jenny is eager to use her newfound skills to help other disabled young adults realize their dreams. “I want to establish a center to provide communication service and training to people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.”
She draws inspiration from the success of other YouthSpark stars. “I am inspired by their success and how they have changed their lives. They know what they love and how to pursue their dreams. Now I do, too.”