Great Bend resident Derrick Pitzer is making the most of his young adult life. He has not allowed his lifelong developmental disability to curb his ambitions. To overcome everyday challenges, he has had to work extra hard in the classroom and in the workforce to advance his progress.
Pitzer’s strong work ethic propelled the 18-year-old to graduate from Great Bend High School a few weeks ago. It also helped him land a part-time job with Great Bend Co-Op, where he has been working since last December.
“Life is going pretty good for me right now,” acknowledged Pitzer.
Recent academic efforts even gave him a chance to rub elbows for one day with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. Pitzer and six of his GBHS Senior Government classmates served as pages for the Kansas House of Representatives on May 2. The legislative experience was sponsored by state Rep. John Edmonds.
“It was a long day,” said Pitzer. “We had to leave Great Bend at 5 o’clock in the morning and we were at the Capitol all day. I liked it and I would do it again.”
Now out of high school, Pitzer turns his attention to what is next in life. He has been working toward that transition for several months already. For the past year, he has lived semi-independently as a resident in a home shared by four other Rosewood Services clients. He also continues to receive case management from Rosewood Services, which should help to smooth his transition.
“I’ve known Derrick for most of his life,” said Deborah Smith, Pitzer’s case manager at Rosewood Services. “He’s a hard worker and he’s done an amazing job of putting himself into such a good position as a young man. I’m proud of him and I’m sure he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Besides working at Great Bend Co-Op, Pitzer said he plans to enjoy time off this summer to fish and to camp. Then he begins writing the next chapter in his life by entering the automotive technology program at Barton County Community College in the fall.
“I’ve been working around cars all of my life,” said Pitzer. “I’m looking forward to my next challenge and becoming a mechanic.”