2024 Focus Award Recipients - Staff

Neal Williamson

Neal Williamson is a Student Development Supervisor at Hillenbrand Dining Court on the West Lafayette campus. Neal saw the need for a high school jobs program at Hillenbrand Dining Court and set out to make it a reality. Neal reached out to three local high schools to find students who could benefit from a stable working environment and implemented a partnership between Hillenbrand Dining Court, McCutcheon High School, and Lafayette Jefferson High School.  Through these partnerships, Neal has worked to offer vocational learning opportunities to individuals with disabilities.  Neal’s only requirement for the incoming students was a willingness to learn and a desire to contribute.

Neal started with two students and added two more during the fall semester. Neal is very patient with these students and takes the time to learn their strengths and weaknesses. Neal consistently sets these students up for success and follows up with them, and their job coaches, daily to ensure their individual needs are being met. 

The first student to join us was John from Jefferson HS. John is learning necessary life skills like responsibility, work ethic, and the value of money. John is realizing the importance of being on time to work and communicating with his peers. According to John’s job coach Heather Huey, John is a part of the team and he truly enjoys going to work. John was very quiet the first few weeks but has since come out of his shell. John is now quick to flash a smile and offer a friendly hello.

Noah joined us at McCutcheon HS in the fall of 2023. Noah does an excellent job in the dish room and has become a favorite of Julie Clugh, one of Hillenbrand’s full-time employees. Julie has noticed a big change in Noah’s abilities over the past few months. Noah comes in ready to work and gives 100% effort on every shift. Noah has a routine at the end of his shift that is a little unconventional but adds a touch of whimsy to our day. Noah ends each day by calling out “catch” and tossing his hat to whoever is in the supervisor's office. This catches everyone off-guard the first time but has quickly turned into a daily tradition. Through Neal’s efforts, these students and many more to come will have a home at Hillenbrand Dining Court.