When Jude Lucien writes his book, VisionCorps will stand out
Tags: Adult, Advice and Insight, Awareness/Education, Employee Stories, Employment Opportunities
When Jude Lucien writes his book, VisionCorps will stand out.
Jude, whose parents immigrated from Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, is legally blind and grew up having to negotiate obstacles and education. This spring, Jude, a Florida State University graduate, will also graduate from Barry University School of Law in Florida.
“I’m going to write a book – my story is not one you hear every day,” says Jude. “I want to hopefully, inspire people. No matter where you come from, no matter what your circumstances, you can succeed.”
He credits VisionCorps with the start of his career path. Jude began working as a contract close-out specialist at VisionCorps in 2011, After some relocations and new jobs along the way, Jude now works in Orlando for the Department of Defense (Defense Contract Management Agency). Since 2020, he has worked as a Contract Specialist, purchasing equipment for military special programs. Recently, he negotiated contracts worth $10 million.
“I’m grateful for VisionCorps – it has a purpose and creates opportunities,” says Jude. “Some of the jobs may seem repetitive, but the mission of the organization is to work together to help create jobs and get people with disabilities employed to be able to advance. It takes a lot of small steps to make that happen.”
At VisionCorps, Jude was trained as an Advocate for the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and went to Washington, D.C., and other public events to talk to lawmakers about the need for the AbilityOne program.
“I told my story – and that of my peers – that without this program, people would rely on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and not be able to work. Living off of disability is okay, but a lot of us have so much more ability than just living off the monthly stipend,” says Jude. “This program provides people who are blind the ability to pursue the American dream. AbilityOne offers us an opportunity to develop our skills and be contributing members of society.
“There’s no greater feeling than persisting and being able to support yourself. I’m now a homeowner,” says Jude.
As a NIB Advocate from VisionCorps, Jude met and worked with lawyers and began considering law school. A law degree would give him the ability to impact policymakers and give people who are blind more opportunities, he says.
His decision to go to law school came after several years of consideration and perseverance to continue his education.
It is “basically another full-time job,” says Jude. “I live in a perpetual state of tiredness.”
When he first started law school, his night classes were from 5:45-10 p.m. He’d start his workday at 6 a.m., up by 4 a.m. to be picked up by paratransit, and work until 2:30 p.m. He then was picked up by paratransit at 4:30 p.m., to attend night classes, and finally, get back home by 11 p.m. And, the next day, repeat!
During COVID, his schedule changed and he was able to work from home and take classes online, which eliminated his travel time.
“I had to do it differently and put in more time than my peers, but I’m doing it, I’m finishing my professional degree.
“Law is the perfect fit for me and opens up so many avenues,” says Jude. “Law school has been hard, along the way a lot of people quit. The training is difficult, but it’s vigorous. Just to know that I am almost done is a rewarding feeling.”
His future plans include finding a legal position working in Government and some private sector work, perhaps in Immigration.
“I’d like to get into motivational speaking. I want to advocate for people with disabilities, for those who are blind,” says Jude.
“There are a lot of other talented, blind people, and our leaders need to know how to put people in places where they can succeed,” he says. “Give us a chance, help us to succeed.”
And, he wants to write a book about his life.
“If you put in the work, and trust the process, you can attain your dreams,” says Jude. “Success is not fast – it’s a marathon. You need to keep chipping away at it every day, but eventually, you will make it.”