nmc students ovrNorthern Marianas College students Amelia Cabrera, left, and Shianne Santos.


nmc students ovr 2Northern Marianas College students Amelia Cabrera and Shianne Santos with Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Case Services Manager Arlene Yamagata, right, and OVR Director Jim Rayphand.


Northern Marianas College students Amelia Cabrera and Shianne   Santos, completed an eight-week internship with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation of the Office of the Governor as part of the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis in rehabilitation and human services. The students spoke briefly about their experiences at a professional development session on their last day.


Cabrera pointed out, “I really didn’t know anything about OVR before coming here, but our professor wanted us to step out of our comfort zone and I’m so glad I did.  I feel like I have a much better understanding of services available to people with disabilities.”


 Santos echoed a similar sentiment, “To be honest, of all the places I wanted to do my practicum, OVR was not one of them.  But I’m grateful for the time and grace shown throughout this experience — I learned a lot.”

Both students had opportunities to learn more about the vocational rehabilitation system, its history, purpose and, more importantly, the direct services available to eligible clients with disabilities. 

Case Services Manager Arlene Yamagata reiterated the importance and need to carefully consider the eligibility criteria. “First, of course, a physical or mental disability and that the disability presents a substantial impediment to employment.  Then we make a determination of whether or not the person would benefit from VR services. Not all people with disabilities would benefit from VR services due to the severity of disability, but we do have members of our community that need extra support and services to realize their employment goals which is exactly OVR’s mission.  We want to see everyone succeed in life and become productive and contributing members of our island community.”


Established in 1975, OVR is a state and federal partnership agency placed within the Office the Governor to increase employment and promote independence among eligible individuals with disabilities throughout the CNMI.

OVR Transition Specialist Sam Santos commented that more people should know about OVR and our efforts in “providing employment opportunities or carving out career pathways and filling in the employment gaps for people with disabilities with the unconditional belief that they can and should also work.”


OVR receives federal grant funds to provide vocational rehabilitation services to assist eligible individuals with disabilities to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, or regain competitive integrated employment within their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. 

Services include, but are not limited to: vocational rehabilitation counseling and guidance, information and referral, physical and mental diagnosis and restoration services, vocational and other training services, job search/placement assistance/job retention services, supported employment services, post-employment services, rehabilitation/assistive technology, and school-to-work transition services. Services are individualized and provided in the context of an approved Individualized Plan for Employment.

OVR consumers may be required to financially participate in their rehabilitation program.

Yamagata said: “We hope to see students like Amelia and Shianne consider careers in vocational rehabilitation or other disability-related professions after college.”