Project SEARCH AZ Interns Hired as Employees Mid-Program

Sonoran UCEDD Update
March 2014

Ryan Chambers Hired at UAMC South Campus
Brande Kitzberger, Instructor, Project SEARCH at UAMC South Campus
Pima Joint Technology Education District (JTED) 

Ryan ChambersRyan Chambers started the Project SEARCH High School Transition program at UAMC South Campus last fall.  In January, he was hired as a Food Service Assistant in the Nutritional Services department here at the UA Medical Center South Campus hospital.

During his first 10-week rotation in the fall in Nutritional Services, Ryan handled a variety of tasks. Those duties included washing pots and pans, working on the dishwashing line, returning patient meal carts with trays to the kitchen, and preparing the daily supply of box lunches.

Ryan, who came to Project SEARCH from Santa Rita High School, said, “My goal was getting a job and I did it! I focused and completed it.”

Veronica Hernandez, the food service manager in Nutritional Services, said, “Every day he would say ‘hello’ and said he would like to apply if there ever were any openings. What impressed me about him was that he had a great work ethic, was always consistent with effort, and was always on time.”

Ryan working in kitchenMartha Mata, the dietary Catering To You supervisor, added, “Ryan is non-stop, always asking for things to do. If he completed a task, he would go help others. He’s a go-getter, and a team player here. We’re looking forward to having him on the staff.”

He will work about 35 hours per week. Besides what he has already learned, his new duties will include ensuring proper temperatures on the dish line and making sure galleys are always stocked in patient areas.

Garrett Porterfield Hired at Sheraton Phoenix Airport Hotel Tempe Restaurant
Caroline Ellis, Lead Job Coach, Project SEARCH Sheraton Tempe
The Centers for Habilitation (TCH)

Garrett drying glassware behind the bar in the restaurantGarrett Porterfield began Project SEARCH at the Sheraton Phoenix Airport Hotel Tempe in August 2013; just 3 short months later he was offered a full-time position working in the hotel’s restaurant Fire + Spice. 

Garrett selected Fire + Spice for his first rotation.  His strong work ethic and good attitude were immediately noticed.  When a position opened up in this department, management responded to the unanimous request coming from food and beverage staff - “Can’t we hire Garrett?”

Since transitioning to the status of a Sheraton employee, his confidence has continued to grow.  One of Garrett’s supervisors, Tom, comments on working with him saying, “Garrett is super conscientious and that goes without saying.  He is genuinely concerned about doing a good job.”  Another co-worker adds, “He also keeps everyone updated on current sports!”  

With the help of Project SEARCH, Garrett has grown his self-confidence and has found an environment where he is comfortable, appreciated, and happy to work.

For more information about Project SEARCH AZ programs coordinated by the Sonoran UCEDD, please visit the website: