Negative workplace experience prompts scholarship recipient to set sights on helping others

December 7, 2023

By Deron Hamel

Luke Jan was 27 and working an office job in the private sector when he was diagnosed with epilepsy. The lack of accommodation Luke received from his employer following his diagnosis had a profound impact on him and would steer his career path in a new direction.

Pictured above, York University student Luke Jan holds his scholarship cheque

At the time, Luke decided to work with his neurologist to minimize his seizures through medication. This helped Luke complete his work assignments and demonstrate to the company that epilepsy was not interfering with his ability to be a productive employee, he says.

This, Luke adds, was a testament to his “resilience and strength as a person living with epilepsy.”

Knowing this working environment was not sustainable in the long term, Luke set his sights on finding a new job with an employer who would be more supportive. He eventually found that with a position in the public sector.

“I refuse to let others’ ignorant or misinformed perceptions or ideas of me negatively limit me,” Luke tells Voices of Epilepsy.

“(This) led me to my current position, working in the Ontario public sector in a role that works directly with offices overseeing the launch of and implementation of programs directly related to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).”

Luke is one of six recipients of Epilepsy Ontario’s 2023 annual scholarship. For more than 15 years, Epilepsy Ontario has been providing scholarships to exceptional students who have confronted and overcome remarkable barriers in their academic and personal lives due to their epilepsy.

Luke is pursuing a master’s degree in the public policy, administration and law (MPPAL) program at York University. He’s planning to use the knowledge and skills he’s gaining through the program to better advocate for people living with epilepsy.

Eventually, Luke says he would like to use his experience and education to assist provincial ministries in supporting epilepsy organizations and people that support those living with epilepsy.

“I made the choice to control my future by advocating for other people living with epilepsy,” he says.

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