Michael Kalberer, M.S.W. ’04, is a New York State licensed master social worker (LMSW), a motivational speaker, a tutor and an event consultant. He also has cerebral palsy.
Kalberer does not treat his condition as a barrier— instead, he sees it as an opportunity to educate audiences on how to transcend their limitations. He lectures on stress, time management, disability etiquette and self-esteem, always referring candidly to his own challenges and accomplishments. “By talking about my time coming up through the special education system, I can maximize my own learning and teaching experiences,” he said.
In addition, Kalberer tutors students preparing to take the New York State social work licensure examination. Many of his clients have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), auditory processing issues or anxiety, which can be tough to handle during a pivotal professional exam. Kalberer addresses these issues head-on, developing teaching styles and processes that are tailored specifically to the needs of each individual. To date, all 44 of his students have passed the exam.
As a self-proclaimed “proud Adelphi grad,” Kalberer remembers his student days with great satisfaction. He networked extensively and co-chaired Disability Awareness Week during his time at the University, which helped him cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit and regain his confidence in professional settings. Most important, Kalberer learned to harness the unique gifts he brings to the table. “My people skills are a greater strength than the experience on my résumé,” he said.
Several years after earning his M.S.W., Kalberer decided to pursue motivational speaking professionally. He returned to the Center for Career and Professional Development as an alumnus, hoping to get some assistance in making this daunting transition. “The career center could not be any more supportive,” he said. “They were phenomenal to me when I switched careers.”
Kalberer still visits the career center regularly for a variety of services: Employees help him maintain his website, answer his emails and establish connections that often lead to speaking opportunities.
Though he is committed to raising awareness about issues faced by people with disabilities, Kalberer hopes to empower every person in the audience when he lectures. “It’s not about living with disabilities,” he explained. “It’s just about living life.”This article appeared in the Career Compass Spring 2017 Newsletter.
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