Inclusion Excellence: How One Manager is Driving Inclusion on Campus
Sohn Stancell, Unit Director at the University of Mary Hardin- Baylor, is passionate about helping people with physical or mental limitations find a supportive work environment. Through his daily actions and practices, he creates this type of work environment for his own team and everyone he encounters. Sohn has spent nearly 30 years with SSC and he has made an incredible impact while ensuring inclusion excellence is a top priority.
Meet Sohn Stancell
Sohn works with career placement programs for people with disabilities to help them on their career journeys. He has worked with several organizations, ranging from a volunteer helping students in high school develop interview skills to partnering with organizations to onboard individuals with disabilities to his team at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Over the years, he has had a group of 4-14 associates with disabilities on his team at any given time.
Sohn has been recognized for his dedicated work to inclusivity several times. In 2022, he received two awards from notable organizations within Texas. He was honored as Employer of the Year at the 2022 Rusty Awards, hosted by the Heart of Central Texas Independent Living Center, for giving people with disabilities equal opportunity to work in an environment that allows them to do their best job. Later in the same month, he received the Torch Community Partner Award at the Workforce Solutions of Central Texas 34th Annual Awards Luncheon.
We spoke with Sohn to discuss how he got started in his initiatives and how he creates an inclusive learning environment for people of all backgrounds and abilities.
How do you find programs to engage with to reach individuals who may not apply for a job without a relationship in place?
“Many of our relationships start by word of mouth and relationships we have already built with schools and state hiring agencies. I also look for people or agencies who are willing to do a meet and greet on the same day.”
How do you adapt a job to the person?
“I typically evaluate where the person is able to help the most. I see each person in different lights and depending on their personality and ability, determine where they can make the best impact and find the most satisfaction. The littlest task can truly go a long way, from emptying trash to cleaning entrance glass or wiping tables.”
How do you guide the supervisory team in working with people with disabilities, especially if this is a new avenue for them?
“I start by walking them through each individual’s disabilities and how they can assist us. I also let them know if they are sensitive to certain noises, smells, etc. I remind them that our jobs are to teach and repeat until the person masters the tasks, and I keep reminding them as they work.”
Through Sohn’s efforts, he has seen associates with disabilities develop confidence and a sense of purpose in the workplace. His overall team enjoys the feeling of giving back and making a difference and loves to know that there is an employer out there who will help their own family members with disabilities.
While it was a mindset adjustment for many, time and hard work proved that individuals with disabilities are assets to the team at UMHB. Sohn’s proudest moments included a student successfully working in the food court during lunchtime rush to wipe windows and clear trash and witnessing a blind student pass the test of installing a shower curtain in the on-campus dorms and apartments.
Sohn has spoken to students in a master’s program on campus about how to best match individuals to the perfect task and to employers in the community about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities. Thank you, Sohn, for your dedication to making an impact!