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Meet Heather Guy, BISM Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award Nominee

Heather, standing on her deck overlooking a large grassy yard and distant trees, wears confident smile and a black and white floral sundress

Heather Guy is the 2024 BISM Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award Recipient.

 In 1996, the NIB Board of Directors established the Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award, which is presented to an individual who demonstrates career advancement at an NIB associated agency or in the private sector. Named after the late Dr. Samuelson, the award is a tribute to his leadership with upward mobility and placement programs for people who are blind. The award recognizes people who are blind employed in an NIB associated agency above the direct labor level and below the top administrative level, as well as those who have utilized their training and experience to seek and achieve in outside competitive employment.

Heather Guy had a typical childhood growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of four, she learned early on unique ways to adjust to the world around her.  At age fourteen, however, Heather’s world began to slowly shift as she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), an eye condition that changes how the retina responds to light, making it hard to see and over time leads to blindness.

As life went on, Heather channeled her determination into her career and became a healthcare administrator. Struggling to keep up with a demanding job as her vision worsened, she had to make the heartbreaking decision to resign. Suddenly at a crossroads, unsure of her next steps, her life paused in uncertainty.

Transitioning her focus to motherhood, Heather was soon confronted with a new fear as she noticed signs of vision loss in her son. In that moment, her determination surged once more, as she started to exhaust every avenue to aid her son.

Heather would soon find BISM and enroll in our training program. BISM’s training helped her break free from the limited beliefs she was taught, proving to herself that her blindness shouldn’t hold her back. Heather embraced every aspect of the training, realizing that she could achieve so much more than she had ever imagined. Upon completing her training, Heather had the confidence to reenter the workforce. As fate would have it, a new job opening arose in BISM’s Salisbury location and Heather jumped on the opportunity.  She applied to be an instructor in the ITR Department and joined our Salisbury team.

What began as a search to find resources for her son became a transformational journey for them both. Her diligence and resourcefulness have not only opened doors for her career but have also shown her son that blindness does not define what you can achieve.

Today, Heather’s passion for helping others is apparent and a driving force in her role as an instructor at BISM. Her favorite part of her job is seeing people regain confidence in their abilities.

“I often instruct someone] that doesn’t think that they can do things as a blind person. Someone who used to cook and loved cooking will say, ‘Oh I used to do that, but I can’t anymore… I’m scared of my stove.’ After a few weeks of instruction, I will see them make their first cake. That’s the best part.”

Receiving this award holds profound significance for Heather, not just marking her personal journey but instilling hope for her son. Reflecting on her path, Heather is grateful for the opportunity to evolve alongside her former mentors, now colleagues at BISM. Above all, she emphasizes the impact this achievement has on her son, affirming his potential for success despite blindness.

“It has been my goal to show [my son] that he is going to be ok, and that he can succeed as a blind person. This achievement shows him he can.”’

Heather’s journey and recognition exemplifies the resilience and inspiration she brings to our community, demonstrating that with determination and support, success is within reach for everyone.