According to Patty Rivas, high expectations and a positive attitude are two key ingredients for success in life and work. Together with members of her family, Patty owns and operates a convenience market in Derwood, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Catering to the area's sizable Latin community, the store specializes in packaged products from Central and South America, and also stocks staples such as fresh milk, produce and meat.
Like many small business owners, Patty's workday runs the gamut, encompassing everything from helping customers, ordering stock and running the register to bookkeeping, paperwork and promotion. And she often works seven days a week.
Patty, who has paraplegia and uses crutches to walk and sometimes a wheelchair, decided to join members of her family in opening the store because it seemed like an exciting challenge and the idea of being her own boss appealed to her. She holds a master's degree in social work and was a social worker before becoming an entrepreneur; it's a career she may consider returning to in the future.
According to Patty, her disability was never a consideration in either career, and a big factor in her success has been the support of family and friends. "Everyone around me has always said, 'You can do it,' so I just always felt I could," she says. "I don't think a disability should limit someone's opportunities or their goals. We are equal individuals and can do the same work."
To see Patty at work — and several other talented individuals with disabilities — view the "I Can" public service announcement on the Campaign for Disability Employment's What can YOU do? website. Patty is also featured on one of the Campaign's posters, available in both English and Spanish.