KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A young woman who works behind the scenes at the University of Tennessee Medical Center first caught our attention three years ago. Kezia Cox has autism and the ABC hit series “The Good Doctor” motivated her to make her own mark in the health care field. We checked back in with Kezia to see how she stepped up her drive even more during the pandemic.
When we met Kezia in 2019, we tried to keep up with her as she zoomed down the hallway at the hospital, making every second count. Her job: gather and keep up with essential items for patients and staff.
Today, her job hasn’t changed, nor has her commitment, but Kezia learned a lot about weathering the pandemic.
“It was just very stressful the whole time,” she said.
She came to work through most of it.
“It was almost like a relief when they started doing the vaccines, almost like a sigh, you know?” she told us.
Kezia got her foot in the door through a nine-month internship with Project SEARCH, which offers programs to people with disabilities who want to join the workforce.
“We have internship opportunities in a wide variety of places,” Danny Matthews, instructor coordinator with Project SEARCH said. “We have food services, environmental services; we have work that can be done in patient units.”
Kezia said she learned how to write a resume, but her biggest takeaway:
“They taught us how to interact with social skills and to become a more confident and better person as individuals.”
These days, Kezia has added responsibility, acting as a mentor to members of the newest Project SEARCH interns. Her advice to them applies to everyone.
“How can you do something if you don’t try to do the best you can do every day? ” Kezia said. “You have to strive for the best and you … just be happy.”
Project SEARCH is hosting an information night from 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the Knoxville Career Center, 2700 Middlebrook Pike. Attendees can learn what a typical day is like for a Project SEARCH intern, review applications and get their questions answered. You must be 18 or older, be able to pass a drug test and background check, and be able to complete a nine-month, unpaid internship.
The session will also be shared virtually. To RSVP for the virtual event email Stacy Spangler at firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 9. Site codes will be provided to those who wish to attend virtually.