Meet Malinda (Lindy), NIU Grad Student and Donka Intern

“To fight for those who may not know how to fight for themselves is empowering on all ends.”

Lindy smiling at camera

Lindy lighting up the room with her smile

You have chosen a career to work with people with disabilities.  What drew you to your work?

Most of the clients I have worked with in the recent past were either born with a disability or had an impairment due to an accident, illness, or aging. My job at a physical therapy clinic and a chiropractor center as a rehabilitation aide was to assist the therapists by helping to strengthen the clients with exercise and motivation. Also, at RUSH Hospital, my volunteer experience included transporting clients, completing administrative tasks, and delivering mail and flowers to the clients. I loved seeing many clients regain function and increase their range of motion during their phase of recovery. However, while there was a lot of physical progress for most clients, I couldn’t help but notice that there was this overwhelming sense of fear, confusion, and stress that some were also accompanied by. A few clients confessed to me that they were feeling lonely, hopeless, or had an increase in depression because they did not believe they had a purpose. So, what brought me to rehabilitation counseling/job placement was an interest in helping people with disabilities (PWD) find their purpose and live more integrated with a better quality of life.

What aspects of your past work/life experiences have prepared you to work at Donka?

Besides my past work experience, my current graduate program at Northern Illinois University has prepared me for tasks or situations to expect while working at DONKA or other job placement organizations. From attending classes on types of assessments to use for PWD, on job placement and readiness, on career and counseling theories, etc.- to conducting research and gaining professional development volunteer hours (working with people with both physical and intellectual disabilities), I was able to get a better understanding of what people generally seek. People want to be included, and they want to pursue their dreams regardless of background or type of disability. I just want to be here to help with that.

What has been your favorite experience while working at Donka?

My favorite experience working with DONKA, as an intern, has been establishing rapport with clients and sort of investigating their cases. I love getting to know others and finding out the best ways that I can help them. To be able to ask myself or others a million questions that leads to connecting all of the dots of a case (through finding out if there are additional services needed for example) comes with a rewarding feeling. In addition to this, I really enjoy working with my current supervisor Carlos. I believe we work very well together, and each bring great perspectives to the table.

What is your favorite topic to teach/service to provide at Donka?

I really enjoy co-facilitating our job readiness workshops. Here, clients receive the chance to hear from other individuals who also have disabilities and may be going through the same struggles or experiencing the same successes through the job placement process. It almost feels as if it is a group counseling session. I can tell that the clients feel relieved to know that they are not alone, and it encourages hope. This makes me happy.

How has working at Donka changed your perspective as it relates to the abilities /challenges/ barriers of people with disabilities?

From my classes, I have learned a lot about barriers and accommodations. However, now that I am getting hands on experience with job placement, I am starting to realize that even though accommodations exist, there is still sometimes no guarantee that one will find a position right away or even at all. Also, I realized that employers are not as willing to accommodate as much as I thought (especially for blind/visually impaired individuals who use JAWS). This scary reality put some pressure on me. I came to a realization that I cannot save everyone, but I can sure put in everything to try. It is a blessing to be placed in a field that supports advocacy. To fight for those who may not know how to fight for themselves is empowering on all ends.

Tell us a little about yourself:  family, favorite activity/hobby, pets, etc.

I am a graduate student at Northern Illinois University. I am in my second year of the rehabilitation counseling master’s program. For my future career, I aspire to help individuals find their identity and purpose. On my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy reading, journaling, taking walks, and anything related to the arts. I thrive off of being able to express my creativity and off of keeping things organized. In addition to this, I am always open to learning new things and expanding my horizons.


Donka, Inc.
400 N. County Farm Rd.
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: 630.665.8169
Email: [email protected]


Business Hours:
Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday – Closed
Sunday – Closed


Donka, Inc. is approved to operate by the Private Business and Vocational Schools Division of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE).

Donka, Inc. is not accredited by a US Department of Education recognized accrediting body. | Complaints: 

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