National Apprenticeship Week Spotlights


In honor of National Apprenticeship Week, we’re spotlighting some of our outstanding apprentices who are a part of the Maryland Direct Support Professional (DSP) Apprenticeship Program.



Riyira is a graduate of the DSP Youth Apprenticeship Program who now works for Humanim as an administrative assistant for the program.

Riyira participated in the first class for youth apprentices in 2019. She learned of the program while in high school and has been a part of #TeamHumanim since her senior year.

“The apprenticeship was a great stepping stone for me,” Riyira said. “It gave me that work experience coming out of high school. It gave me access to a career, rather than just a job.”

The program taught Riyira valuable skills that she uses in her professional and personal life. She learned how to effectively communicate and de-escalate conflicts, which she says helped break her out of her shell. Riyira also learned to identify her clients’ needs and help solve their challenges.

For instance, she noticed an individual was having trouble at mealtimes. He was not able to keep his bowl steady and struggled with the utensils. So, Riyira ordered him non-slip bowls and plates, along with thicker utensils to help stabilize his hand, which enabled him to eat on his own. This experience opened her eyes to how much of an impact she was able to make just as a student.

Riyira graduated from high school in 2020 and secured a job as a DSP in personal supports, which allowed her to have more independence in her own life.

“Getting a job out of high school at a higher rate, more than minimum wage was very rewarding,” she said. “I was able to move out of my mom’s house on my 18th birthday, get a car, and pay my expenses. Humanim gave me a job and mentored me on how to maintain a job, and how to act in a professional setting.”

Because of her expertise, she was asked to mentor youth apprentices. She now serves as an Administrative Assistant and mentor for students.

“Riyira is an exceptional mentor for the youth apprentices,” said Charles Hicklyn, Administrative Manager of the program. “She structures meaningful activities, which are opportunities for the youth to explore the application of concepts in a safe space where they can challenge and experiment with creative ideas.”

Charles went on to say “Often times when we get new youth apprentices, they are noticeably nervous and uncomfortable because of their unfamiliarity with the work expectations and environment. Riyira does a wonderful job of being personable and inviting in order to foster supportive relationships with apprentices.”

In addition to working, Riyira also attends Howard Community College where she majors in Finance.

“Humanim is a very good employer because they’re so understanding that I am a college student and I do need extra time to study. They’re willing to work with my school schedule and give me enough hours.”

Riyira advises youth apprentices to come with an open mind and readiness to learn.

“As long as you put in the effort, you’ll be successful. I’m here to help you and everyone else is here to help you.”



We’re proud to partner with Howard County Public School System to expand the Youth DSP Apprenticeship program to new populations. Students graduating with a high school diploma plus job training may have an easier time securing full-time employment. They may also decide to grow their careers at Humanim.

To gain insight into apprenticeship outcomes, we spoke with Stephanie, a Resource Teacher who is a part of the Office of Career and Technical Education and oversees the Apprenticeship Maryland Academy in Howard County Public Schools.

This academy is offered across 21 counties in Maryland and enables high school seniors to work part-time and obtain paid on-the-job training for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related fields. The academy also offers training in industries such as Health and Biosciences, Business Management and Finance, and Construction to name a few.

Most students who are interested are successfully placed in the program and 80 percent stay with their employers after graduation and are offered full-time positions.

“I get really positive feedback from the students,” Stephanie said. “They all have said that it’s a great experience for them and that they were really grateful to be able to participate in the program.”

Employers have also been appreciative of being able to connect with students. The program brings awareness to career opportunities that students can pursue after high school.

“The apprenticeship is designed to be a career pathway and not just a job experience,” Stephanie said. “Registered apprenticeships and youth apprenticeships are gaining a lot of momentum, so I definitely think that it’s a trend that is going to continue to expand.”



Iffy, a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at Standard Integrated Supports, Inc., has been working in the healthcare industry for seven years. Since joining Humanim’s DSP Apprenticeship program just a few months ago, she has transformed the way she approaches her job.

“Everything I’ve been doing lately is because I enrolled in this program,” Iffy said. “Even at work, I encourage my colleagues to get into this program. It has a lot of benefits. It’s helped me improve myself in my job. It’s helped me see my clients in a different perspective and it’s helped me listen.”

The apprenticeship’s interactive class has been her favorite part of the program. The class not only equips apprentices with the tools needed to succeed in their roles but also allows room for everyone to express themselves.

As a result, Iffy’s confidence increased. Since emigrating from Nigeria five years ago, she was initially more reserved.

“I am shy because I don’t have an American accent, but this program made me understand I can’t keep quiet. Somebody will benefit from that little contribution you made. See how much you can give out no matter how little it is. Learn from your experience.”

Lessons are learned in an out-of-the-box style that relieves tension and brings joy to the classes.

“By the end of the day, I’m thinking about everything over and over and I’m smiling to myself, {because of} all I’m learning from the program.”

The apprenticeship also influenced Iffy to create fun and engaging group activities like spelling bees, and family feud, where she encourages her clients and enhances their abilities.

“I don’t see their disabilities. I treat them like I would treat my own. Learning how to relate to them is the essence to impact in their daily lives.”



Meet Keyata, an Employment Specialist at the Arc Baltimore. Keyata has dedicated almost 15 years to the human services field and was among the first class of Humanim’s Direct Support Professional (DSP) Apprenticeship program in 2019.

Encouraged by her employer, she attended the program to learn new skills and came out with knowledge that exceeded her expectations.

“It’s a good program, you learn a lot of things you didn’t even think about,” Keyata said. “It makes you feel accomplished after the whole year of work you do.”

The apprenticeship promotes the value of a person-centered approach. With that, Keyata is able to develop more meaningful and collaborative relationships with individuals and their families.

In her current role, she finds employment opportunities that best suit each client’s unique personality.

“When they get a job and they stick with that job for years after you found it, is a reward in itself.”

Keyata has also earned a raise and completed the DSP-III Certification from the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, which is the highest credential that DSPs can achieve, representing a deep commitment to the people they support.

“The program helped me excel. I feel like I’ve grown in this field as far as what I want to do, what I can do, and what I know to do.”



We’re excited to announce that Mojisola, one of our Adult Direct Support Professional (DSP) Apprentices has been chosen as the winner of the 2022 Maryland Apprenticeship Award by the Maryland Department of Labor for her outstanding contributions to apprenticeship in our state!



Mojisola has been working in the human services field since emigrating from Nigeria nearly 20 years ago. Mojisola identifies caring for others as a passion in her life. She supports seniors, children, and individuals with disabilities through her DSP role at Creative Options, where she has been employed since 2005. Despite her many years of experience, Mojisola was thrilled to sign up for the DSP Apprenticeship Program last December.

“I love to improve and when the opportunity of the DSP Apprenticeship Program came up, I jumped at it,” Mojisola shared. “I said, ‘this is what I’ve been looking for.'”

In addition to paid on-the-job training and classroom instruction, program participants work towards earning professional certification through the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). Mojisola completed DSP levels I, II, and III certifications in record time – just six months! The DSP-III Certification is the highest level of credential that DSPs can achieve, representing a deep commitment to the people they support.

Mojisola appreciates the immense support and encouragement she received from Humanim managers, Charles Hicklyn and Dorothy Sael. Charles said, “When we gave her a pathway of how to do the certifications, she was determined to stick to it. Mojisola champions the program, convincing peers to sign up, as well.”

“I tell all the DSPs around me what I’ve learned. I encourage them to go through the program themselves. We have to make sure we do things the right way. The right way is to respect the person we support and seek their opinion in everything we want to do around them.”

With the right approach, Mojisola was able to completely transform a difficult and dangerous situation at work. Before stepping in, the client’s behaviors were described as aggressive. The individual had resorted to throwing things out of frustration with her care.

“I had to make sure she had confidence and trust in me. That was the first thing I did,” Mojisola said. “By listening more, I got her trust. Now, we walk together. I share what works for her. And because I respect her, she will listen to me.”

Since then, the client began setting personal goals and exercising more independence. She does her own laundry and attends a day program where she’s focused on what she wants to do. Mojisola’s intervention and person-centered strategy made a world of difference for the individual and everyone around her.

“See them the way you see yourself. Give them the respect you expect others to give to you.”