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TRC grads overcome physical, emotional barriers

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TRC student speaker Jose Ortega and DHS Assistant Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Andrea Cooper celebrate TRC's recent graduation.




SMYRNA –  One of the largest groups of young men and women graduated today from the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center in Smyrna on Monday. 

Eighty-nine young men and women with significant disabilities walked or rolled their wheelchairs across the stage Monday morning during a graduation ceremony at the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center. 



Program Area

Joe Mattox


Vision Impairment Services

George Minter


Traumatic Brain Injury

Jennifer Rowland


Traumatic Brain Injury

Amy Williams


Business Ed

The students, whose disabilities include quadriplegia, mental retardation, and traumatic brain injury, overcame tremendous barriers to get here today.

The new graduates took advantage of the diverse programs offered at TRC, including Building Maintenance, Business Education Training, Food Service Training, Custodial Training and Warehouse Training.  Many students who attend the TRC have mobility impairments, and need assistance with learning, or re-learning, how to live as independently as possible.  

José Ortega from Mount Pleasant in Maury County, is one of these students.  He has quadriplegia and participated in the Physical Therapy program, as well as the Transitional Life Skills program.  He’s now attending college in middle Tennessee and hopes to become a hospital social worker.  Ortega was selected by his classmates to be the Student Speaker.

“Before I came to the TRC,” Ortega told his fellow graduates, families and TRC staff, “I didn’t have the strength, either mentally or physically, to get out on my own.  There were days I wanted to give up.  But the counselors here, along with my fellow students, helped keep me going.  And today, I can drive, I go to school, and I have my own apartment.  I’m truly on my way to complete independence.”  

Students are referred to the TRC by Vocational Rehabilitation counselors in their home counties.
The Tennessee Rehabilitation Center is a state-operated comprehensive rehabilitation facility.   It is one of only eight such centers in the nation.  Services are provided on campus, and the majority of clients live on-site while receiving services.  The length of programs offered at TRC varies, depending upon the individual client’s interest, abilities and needs. TRC is part of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation of the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

TRC serves more than 1,300 Tennesseans each year.  Since opening its doors in 1977, TRC has served more than 30,000 individuals.   For more information about TRC, the Division of Rehabilitation Services and the Tennessee Department of Human Services, visit state.tn.us/humanserv/rehab/trc.htm.
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