With a dream to one day return to Mongolia and assist others with disabilities who have no help, Tamir Tsogbaatar, a south metro man with cerebral palsy, is determined to use his work experience, public speaking and passion for technology to benefit others with disabilities.
Tsogbaatar, who sometimes uses a wheelchair, was told by his mother when he was younger that he needs to walk, so he taught himself, explains ProAct job developer Barb McGovern. Lacking medical support in his native Mongolia, he came to Minnesota with his family at age 11.
Video gaming has been one of his interests for years, so ProAct considered customized employment options that fit that mold, eventually landing at Best Buy in Apple Valley. The store hired Tsogbaatar as a merchandiser. With a grin and an eagerness to learn, he thrives in this sales environment.
"His expressions and face light up when you talk about the cool things he likes to do," said Best Buy General Manager Ron Szelag. "Right down to helping customers and guiding them to where they want to go. You can feel the enthusiasm."
Game systems, televisions and floor stocking are his current emphasis, and the part-timer soon became a regular employee after first working as a seasonal merchandiser. He calls it his dream job.
"It makes me more independent and a hard worker," said Tsogbaatar. With a charming smile, he said it feels good to help people.
Szelag said Tsogbaatar ties right in to Best Buy company values: having fun while being the best, learning from challenge and change and unleashing himself every day. The GM also knew Tsogbaatar previously as a customer who would come in to see the latest video games. Outside of work, other opportunities are presenting themselves, and Tsogbaatar is taking them.
He spoke to the Employment Innovations Group at the Dakota County offices in West. St. Paul, serving as the chief promoter and emcee of the "App Smackdown." The recorded session brought disability service providers, the county and state together to share smartphone apps that can improves the lives of people with disabilities.
"You and your staff will be able to visit my website and view all the applications being used around Minnesota. They will help people with specific things to gain meaningful competitive employment and help them save quite a bit of time," Tsogbaatar said to attendees. Equipment on loan from Best Buy allowed the presenters to display the app technologies to the entire group.
Even bigger dreams are also in the works. Tsogbaatar's end goal is to have a business that assists young children with disabilities in Mongolia. There was no help for him there when he was little, so that's something he wants to change, McGovern said.
McGovern worked with him through the intensive Way to Work pilot program, a highly-focused job placement collaboration with Minnesota Vocational Rehab Services (VRS) and Dakota County.
Taking their message national, the Best Buy GM and his employee were featured panelists at the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation spring conference in Maryland. He presented with Kim Peck, director of Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services with the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), and other panelists, who discussed Section 511 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
ProAct is headquartered in Eagan and has additional operations in Red Wing, Zumbrota and in Hudson, Wis. Its mission is to provide person-centered services that enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities in the areas of employment, life skills, and community inclusion.
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