Removing Roadblocks to a Dream Job

Mitch with Dog

By the time Mitchle (Mitch) Grogan entered his 40s, this married father of two had already enjoyed success following several career paths — driving 18-wheelers, trimming trees, working as both a pharmacist and a surgical technician, and even helping manage a Fortune 500 company. And, he firmly believed that he would successfully complete his studies for his next career as a licensed vocational nurse.

That is until one morning, while driving to class, Mitch ran into a major roadblock — metaphorically — when he found it hard to see the road ahead. “It looked foggy, but it was actually a sunny day,” he recalls.

An ophthalmologist confirmed Mitch had retinitis pigmentosa, a diagnosis that forced him to end his studies. “I couldn’t read the computer to take my tests,” adds Mitch.

The doctor urged him to visit Braille Institute, but Mitch resisted at first. “I was in denial,” he says. “I thought I didn’t want to be around a bunch of blind people going, ‘Boo-hoo! Why me?’ ”

When he finally registered at our regional center in Anaheim, “The reality was totally different.” Mitch took inspiration from supportive fellow students and staff. He gained fresh hope through daily living skills classes and learned to use adaptive technology, such as ZoomText Magnifier/Reader software, so he could continue using his computer.

The following year, Braille Institute helped Mitch set new career goals and earn a six-month internship at the Anaheim Center. And, inspired by his daily living skills instructors, he became a popular volunteer instructor himself. “I wanted to pass along to others the help that Braille Institute gave to me,” Mitch remembers.

Meanwhile, his participation in the men’s group at the Anaheim Center brought unexpected rewards. Wayne Heidle, a Braille Institute volunteer, recommended Mitch for a job at the optometry college where he works. Mitch got the job and is an Adaptive Technology Assistant introducing students who are blind or visually impaired to the latest innovations.

Mitch credits Braille Institute’s staff and volunteers with turning his life around and helping him find a new dream career. “Once I got that diagnosis,” he says, “I was lost and confused. Braille Institute helped me get my mind back together and find a new direction.”