Sonja Vukajlovic

Aspire

Newsmaker Making A Difference: Sonja Vukajlovic, Aspire & Medix

September 04, 2018 - 6:00 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- "What I want people to know about those on the autism spectrum is that autism is just another way of thinking, perceiving and being in the world."

It's another busy day for Sonja Vukajlovic, who works in downtown Chicago for the staffing firm Medix.

The west suburban resident got the job in part through the help of the local non-profit Aspire, which supports children and adults with developmental disabilities.

She tells WBBM Newsradio that Aspire helped her "by putting my resume together and looking for jobs...I practiced interview skills and filled out job applications."

Jim Kales is the CEO of Aspire.  He told WBBM Newradio during a break in a busy day for Sonja and others at Medix and Aspire that Sonja is "a joy to work with.  Every time I see someone from Medix they're always telling me 'thank you so much for bringing Sonja to our attention...she adds so much to our team.'" 

Emily Sloan works with Sonja every day, saying "Sonja has expanded her office duties of overseeing our kitchen here as well as our kitchen on the field side every morning and every afternoon, so we've tacked on more responsibilities."

Medix Marketing Coordinator Kelli Lavach said the relationship between Aspire and Medix is growing thanks to Sonja.

"We asked Aspire to come out to Medix to do an overview of what Aspire is and we're going to do a workshop and we're going to have Medix teammates go out to Aspire."

Aspire's Hayley Formolo said Sonja's "star" is rising.

"Sonja recently starred in a marketing video that we put together.  She also gave an amazing speech at a partnership event between Aspire and Medix."

Kales tells WBBM Newsradio that Aspire is "placing 100 or so people a year in community jobs...this is not charity hiring, this is real hiring."

WBBM Newsradio/Terry Keshner

As Sonja walks around her office, which has an inspiring view of parts of downtown Chicago and the West Side and, on a clear day, lets someone see all the way out into the western suburbs, she talks to her co-workers, quietly does her job and seems to stand out mostly because she blends in.

"People with autism have many different abilities and different challenges," she tells WBBM Newsradio.  "We have goals and dreams like everyone else.  We can be independent and productive.  We just need a chance."

Sonja was asked where she thinks she'll be and what she'll be doing 10 years from now and she mulls the question for a moment and said "I'm not exactly sure yet."

But all who know her get the impression she'll be doing just fine, wherever she is.

Sonja, in addition to being a valuable Medix employee and Aspire success story, is also a very talented artist.  You can see some of her work below.

Newsmaker Making A Difference: Sonja Vukajlovic Painting Example
Aspire

 

Newsmaker Making A Difference: Sonja Vukajlovic Painting Example
Aspire

 

Newsmaker Making A Difference: Sonja Vukajlovic Painting Example
Aspire

WBBM Newsradio's Terry Keshner produced this story.

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

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