Oklahoma City – Emily Cheng of Oklahoma City was recently appointed to the Commission for Rehabilitation Services by Governor Mary Fallin.
The commission is the governing board for the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
DRS annually serves more than 83,400 Oklahomans with disabilities through career planning, employment, independent living, educational programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits.
Commissioner Cheng has been employed as the disability services coordinator and an academic advisor at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City since 2005.
As a person with cerebral palsy, Cheng used DRS’ post-employment services in the past to maintain her job at the university.
Her professional background includes higher education and accessibility issues, vocational rehabilitation, mental health services and advocacy for individuals with disabilities.
“Commissioner Cheng has 15 years’ experience working with individuals with disabilities to achieve their employment, educational and independent living goals,” DRS Executive Director Noel Tyler said, ”We are excited about working with her to empower Oklahomans with disabilities to achieve their maximum potential and lead fulfilling lives.”
Cheng earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Tulane University and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Both universities are located in New Orleans.
She is also a certified rehabilitation counselor and previously worked for DRS’ counterpart agency, Louisiana Rehabilitation Services.
“I understand the processes that DRS has to follow because I’ve worked as a counselor before,” Cheng said. “There are guidelines, policies and steps that have to be followed to use taxpayer and federal dollars responsibly.”
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Cheng’s husband Neil Cambre was transferred from New Orleans to Oklahoma City.
Cheng sought employment in her new state.
“I always wanted to work for a college,” she said. “The job description (for OSU-OKC disability services coordinator) fit my education and my training, and I was lucky enough to get this job.”
“The skill set you use as a rehabilitation counselor translates well into the education field because part of a rehabilitation program can sometimes be re-training, and education is often a part of that.”
“I believe that individuals with disabilities can thrive when they advocate for themselves, are determined to succeed and are given access to support services,” Cheng said. “I am happy to be working with such a great team and excited about being a good advocate for Oklahomans with disabilities.”
Cheng and Cambre enjoy living in the urban core and reside in downtown Oklahoma City, where they love supporting local shops and restaurants.
For more information about life-changing employment and education programs offered by the Department of Rehabilitation Services, visit www.okdrs.gov or phone 800-845-8476.