Champions of Disability Employment breakfast recognizing CTV editor

Positively Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Zachary Puccio is a young man we first met a year ago as a student at Pellissippi State Community College taking advantage of programs designed to help him succeed.

Puccio has severe ADHD. At a young age he was told he’d never be able to read or write. Thankfully, he didn’t listen to those who shared that opinion.

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Today, Zach is using the editing skills he learned in college to bring viewers programs and interviews on CTV-Community Television.
He works there three days a week and loves every minute of it.

“I’m doing what I enjoy, ” Zach said. “I come into work, smiling.”

Zach said he decided to ignore messages he received early in life after his ADHD diagnosis.

“I was told, probably (age) 3 through 12 I couldn’t do it, over and over … told me I couldn’t. I’d never be able to read; never be able to write. I’d never succeed in anything. Me, personally? I took that and let it fuel the fire to not be put down,” Zach said.

It was his determination and the grant based program called UPEP that helped him work on a plan for success through career and academic coaching at Pellissippi.

“They went above and beyond with helping me,” Puccio said “Pushing me; making me want to succeed.”

Zach recently graduated from Pellissippi State with two associate degrees and armed with new confidence.

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“Zach is a very eager employee,” CTV Production Manager Jason Amos Oaks said. “He came in here and just hit it running. He was very impressive to us and on top of that, when his internship was over, he just came right out and said , ‘Can I get a job here?,’ and we didn’t even hesitate.”

Zach has learned to cope with symptoms of ADHD, especially while on the job.

“I’ll have those moments where I get a little antsy, so I’ll just get up, walk around, stretch my legs, go look and see if they’ve checked equipment,” he said.

“Don’t let yourself be labeled and don’t let yourself be put down.”

Puccio will be featured at the 2019 Champions of Disability Employment breakfast next week, as part of the observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

NDEAM celebrates America’s workers with disabilities, both past and present. The purpose is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

NDEAM emphasizes the importance of inclusive policies and practices to ensure that all Americans who want to work, can work, and have access to services and support to enable them to do so.

In June, the U.S. Department of Labor announced “The Right Talent, Right Now” as the theme for the 2019 National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Every day, individuals with disabilities add significant value and talent to our workforce and economy,” the department said in a news release. “Individuals with disabilities offer employers diverse perspectives on how to tackle challenges and achieve success. Individuals with disabilities have the right talent, right now.”

For more information on the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium, visit www.kaectn.org.

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