Path to Independence students attend University debut for the first time in nine years

Hab Arenas has rather a lot in widespread with different college college students. Arenas loves sports activities and is an intern on the College of Nevada, Reno’s soccer staff. She loves hanging out together with her associates and has stayed in contact with others by COVID-19 by digital sport nights. His household is proud that he graduated on Friday. But when Arenas had graduated final yr, three years earlier than that, or 5 years earlier than that, Arenas would not have been concerned within the College entrance ceremonies; He was going to a separate ceremony.

First-time college students will graduate, together with the remainder of the scholar inhabitants, from the Path to Independence program, a two-year certificates program for college students with mental disabilities on the Nevada Heart of Excellence for the Disabled. Arenas will be part of 4 different college students, Ben Blessing, Logan Mason, Jeff Morgan, and Charlie O’Neal, who graduated Friday, Could 13. They’ll accompany different college students on the School of Training and Human Improvement.

“Hab took benefit of each in-person and digital alternative,” stated Jessica Keefhaver, program coordinator for Path to Independence. “He can be a extremely nice consultant of our scholar inhabitants. He took each alternative to be part of the college.”

For the reason that Street to Independence was a certificates program, a separate ceremony was held earlier than, as diplomas weren’t awarded to the scholars. Nevertheless, they have been allowed to affix this yr as most Path to Independence college students wouldn’t have the ability to full a full program for his or her bachelor’s diploma. For some, this might be their final commencement. College students like Arenas, who graduated from highschool amid the pandemic, have by no means had a standard commencement ceremony.

“Participation advantages everybody,” stated Keefhaver. “When you’ve been uncovered to individuals with behavioral and studying variations and then you definitely’re in public and also you see a younger youngster having a tantrum, perhaps as a substitute of being afraid of it, you’ll be able to take a while off. compassion and understanding.”

Hab Arenas adorning his hat earlier than beginning

Street to Independence is a certification program, nevertheless it has distinctive and difficult necessities to acquire this certification. Throughout their time on the College, college students will full program-specific tutoring, common tuition with the remainder of the scholar inhabitants, and work in a part-time job or internship. They’re paired with academic coaches for tutorial assist and scholar counselors to attach with friends and construct relationships with others.

“Our program is half tutorial, but additionally half employment,” stated Nicole Wadden, employment coordinator at Path to Independence. “They steadiness work and college, which is only a ton of labor. They take a transition to employment course, they need to do a job shadowing program, after which they need to discover a job of their second yr.”

The hassle pays off in graduates’ profession outcomes. A survey of Street to Independence alumni estimated that round 83% are employed or persevering with after commencement. A survey performed by Particular Olympics reveals that solely 34% of the nationwide common for individuals with mental disabilities are employed, with lower than half of graduates being employed or attending college after finishing the Path to Independence program.

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