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Cerebral Palsy Doesn’t Stop Deven from Living a Full Life Including Superstar Chance Encounters!

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

Deven working at Balboa Naval Hospital
Deven working at Balboa Naval Hospital

Born into military life, Deven grew up dreaming of following in his dad’s footsteps as a Navy Seal, but when he applied to the program he was denied due to his disability. While he was disappointed, he didn’t let that stop him from pursuing a career with Job Options as an Environmental Technician at Balboa Naval Hospital. Job Options provides tailored housekeeping focused on infection control and prevention, hygiene and safety for hospital patients, staff and visitors. Deven’s position is especially important during the pandemic as he is on the frontline fighting bacteria in restrooms and common areas. He is well-respected for the work that he does!

Deven with his TMI Job Coach Andy Palasciano wearing masks at Balboa Naval Hospital
Deven with his TMI Job Coach Andy Palasciano

As a client with Toward Maximum Independence (TMI), a nonprofit serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Deven receives TMI Supported Employment Job Coach services from Andy Palasciano at the same military installation, in the laboratory department, where his mom has worked for 20 years.

This month, Deven is celebrating eight years in his position and was recently selected as a candidate to receive a prestigious award from Job Options for excellent service. Although Deven didn’t ultimately receive the final award, it was still a great honor to be nominated as it is a national award for all of the military bases that Job Options provides services for throughout the country.

“When you see Deven work you can clearly see why he was selected for the award,” said Andy. “Anytime a customer wants an extra bag or to get into a room Deven is cleaning, he always complies, even if that means he needs to go out of his way to get more supplies or if it throws the timing of his schedule off. Deven puts the needs of customers above his own. The Management at Job Options say that they don’t need to check Deven’s area, because they know he always does a great job!”

Deven is also an avid video gamer who is nearly at expert level. Deven’s brother, Tyson, designs video games for a living. Tyson’s company, Machine Zone, is currently a contractor for Apple making video games for the iPhone. Once, Deven and his brother entered a video game player competition for the game E3 Gears of War: Judgment in Los Angeles at a major convention. They played in the video game tournament as a team of two against many other players. Deven and Tyson won first place!

Deven and his brother Tyson overlooking San Diego
Deven enjoying time with his brother Tyson

Deven volunteers at Comic Con each year where he increases his expertise in gaming and comics. One time, Deven took a break and sat down in the main hall. A man sitting next to Deven struck up a conversation with him. The man never said his name. He didn’t have to. Deven knew right away that the man was none other than Samuel L. Jackson! He trusted Deven enough to know that Deven wouldn’t compromise his identity, which allowed them to have a conversation for quite some time. Deven was thrilled!

Deven posing with Iron Man at Comic Con (inset: photo of Samuel L. Jackson)
Deven at Comic Con (inset: Samuel L. Jackson)

For the future, Deven hopes to work in the gaming field for Microsoft’s accessibility department which produces modified game consoles and controls for players with disabilities. Deven certainly has the expertise to do this, along with the heart to succeed at anything he puts his mind to!

Congratulations on your success, Deven. We can’t wait to see what your future holds!

Deven in his new uniform
Deven in his new uniform

(March 2022 Update: Deven was recently promoted from Environmental Tech to Floor Tech at Balboa Naval Hospital through Job Options. Next, Deven will be taking classes to become a Lead. A Lead is similar to a Supervisor with some managerial duties. Deven’s instincts are great as is his work ethic and awareness of what needs to be done. It is common for Floor Techs to not be allowed to touch the floor cleaning machines for an entire month after becoming a Floor Tech. Deven used the machines on his second day and is really excelling. He has always had good customer service skills and puts the needs of the customer in front of his own. Now, he is meeting the needs of the customer in a new way by making the hardwood floors shine. He is a tireless worker. Congratulations on your promotion, Deven! We are very proud of you!)

It is the mission of the Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Supported Employment program to support, enhance and educate the general workforce population on the contributing value of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through personalized integration, training and advocacy, TMI helps to develop the capabilities and strengths of all people desiring to work.

Thank you to TMI Job Coach Andy Palasciano for contributing to this story.


Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) has been transforming the lives of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1981 and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 2000. In 2020, we launched Disabled Veteran Employment Services. TMI strives to help our clients to realize their hopes and dreams by providing Employment Solutions, Community Living and Family Support Services throughout San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties. To stay connected with us, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Together we can share acceptance and awareness, ultimately contributing to further inclusion.


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