Loyola University Maryland student Veena Meer, ’12, has received the Judith C. Gilliom Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities Award for her work as the U.S. Air Force assistant disability program manager at the Headquarters Air Force Equal Opportunity Office.
Meer is the only Air Force student employee in the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) to win the award this year. Five awards are given annually to recognize outstanding performance among more than 400 university students and recent graduates in the WRP across the U.S. Department of Defense.
“The award is a huge honor for me, and this experience has been truly inspiring,” said Meer. “I want to live up to what the award stands for and continue to do more.”
The WRP award is named in honor of the late Judith C. Gilliom, cofounder of the WRP and Department of Defense disability program manager for 25 years. Cosponsored by the Department of Defense and the Department of Labor, the WRP is a government-wide program with a goal to increase the representation of persons with disabilities in the federal workplace.
Meer’s Air Force supervisors nominated her for the award for her numerous contributions to both the Equal Opportunity Office and the WRP, which include pioneering new strategies to increase efficiency, writing articles and blog posts, and leading an outreach event for employees with disabilities. Her accomplishments have been so exceptional that she simultaneously received the U.S. Air Force Civilian of the Quarter Award for her division.
“I want to dedicate my life to helping people and I’m so fortunate to be doing that this summer,” Meer said. “I've had the opportunity to combat prejudices that prevent individuals with disabilities from getting hired, give those individuals priority in the job market, and then make sure they have the accommodations they need to succeed.”
Meer, from Crofton, Md., was accepted into the summer position with the help of Disability Support Services (DSS) at Loyola. She is registered with DSS because she has ADHD, and she attributes increases in her grades and confidence to the guidance of DSS staff.
Meer is a business management major and information systems minor, a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, and a three-year resident assistant on campus. After graduation in December, Meer plans to apply to officer training school or pursue a career as a project manager for the federal government.