Last week Pathway graduates Charlie Matthews and Courtney Vinson were invited to visit with the 5th grade class of Tami Strauss at Orange Glen Elementary in Escondido. We had a great time talking with the students about college and answering their questions.
What is remarkable about this school is that all classes - including the special education classes - are expected to adopt a university and find out about that university. Ms Strauss' class adopted Pathway and did a lot of research about the UCLA campus and had a lot of questions for Charlie and Courtney.
Courtney talking about her college experience.
Doing the 8 clap
Students working on UCLA collages
Thanks to Ms. Strauss and all of her students for inviting us to visit. It is great to see students thinking ahead and seeing college as within their reach.
As part of our data collection on student outcomes, I have been meeting with some students in a focus group format to talk about their experiences. There were some really interesting, though not surprising, themes that came up. This is not a comprehensive summary, but a sampling of some of the responses.
The questions were focused on why the students originally wanted to come to the program, post-program goals, what they most looked forward to, and their biggest fears.
Why did you want to come to Pathway?
"Having a college expereince, education. To learn how to live on my own."
"I wanted a safe a controlled environment that I could I could practice living by myself, before actually moving out so that if it didn't work out I wouldn't crash and burn."
"So I could do stuff on my own...to be a responsible adult."
"My parents wanted me to be independent at at the college...to make new friends."
What are your goals after the program?
"Transfer to a 2 year college, then a 4 year college, and then off to start a career."
"Be a professional actor, live on my own, have a career."
"I have three goals, work with sick kids, work with fabrics, and be a nurse"
"Be a DJ or work with teachers in a high school."
"Be independent, have a house of my own, a part-time job, and maybe go to my local community college."
What did you look forward to the most?
"Being able to have my own space and do my own thing, to be able to be alone."
"That I would take care of myself"
"To be a man, and to not look back!"
What was your biggest fear?
"I was afraid of being here at UCLA because there are a lot of people here with degrees - Bachelors, Masters."
"That I wasn't going to be able to hang out with my friends from home as much."
"Will I get along with my roommates?"
"Afraid of failing at schoool. Have to take classes again, and letting my friends and family down."
"I was afraid of not making friends, and of hard homework."
This is a great conference because it deals very specifically with what I do on a daily basis and I get to interact with folks from around the country that are also connected to this work. I always come away from this conference inspired and excited about this work. A colleague said to me, “On a daily basis I think, ‘I have a really cool job’ and then I come here and talk to everyone and realize that I have a great job!” So very true.
Below is a sampling of some of the sessions I attended:
• Working With, Not Around: Understanding the needs of families of students in postsecondary education. This was a great session co-presented by Cate Weir from ThinkCollege and Sean Roy from the PACER Center. In this session Cate presented the view of higher education and Sean the perspective of parents. What I got out of this session was how even though we may be aiming for the same things in the end, parents and programs come from different perspectives and I/we need to take pay more attention to the parent perspective.
• Prototype for the College Application and Enrollment Process: Getting to Know You. Presented by Matthew Weiler from AHRC in NYC. The Pathway admission process is pretty comprehensive, but Matthew presented a couple of things I would like to add. Specifically, tools to help us get a better picture of students’ goals and skills before they come to the program.
• Assessing Postsecondary Education Readiness of Youth with ID/DD. This was a session from my colleagues at the College of New Jersey with whom I have been collaborating with for years. Two of the folks – Rick and Rebecca – both were at the University of Oregon when I was there. The TCNJ folks presented a rubric that they have developed to assist high school (and younger) students with preparing for postsecondary education. What they have found is the most students are not well prepared for college, and students with intellectual disabilities are even farther behind because they are excluded from the preparatory activities that do exist. I plan on using this rubric to develop some questions for incoming students and parents to assess their own readiness.
• Supporting Healthy Sexuality in Postsecondary Settings. Presented by folks from Temple University. The big take away from this session was that we all get conflicting information about relationships and sexuality from the media – sex sells and is used so extensively in advertising that we have become desensitized to it. For our students that might have a difficult time dealing with subtle social cues the results can be disastrous.
• The Health Inspiration Program. Last summer some folks from Sweden visited Pathway to gather information about developing postsecondary education programs. Kennet Frojd and Tomas Boman presented the progress they have made in developing the first degree program at a Swedish university for folks with intellectual disabilities.
My overall impressions:
• We need to have flexibility to address the individual support needs for students.
• Families too have individual support needs and we need to have flexibility in addressing their support needs.
• Students and families are not adequately being prepared for postsecondary education, and we need short-term strategies to make sure those needs are met while we also develop long-term strategies to make sure that future students and families are better prepared before they get to college.
• It’s about JOBS! The point of postsecondary education is to get a better job. The college experience is nice, but we need to do more to prepare students for work.
Kimberly Dimkich is the first Pathway student to earn a second UCLA Extension professional certificate.
As a member of her Pathway class of students with intellectual disabilities (including cerebral palsy, autism, and Down syndrome), Kimberly Dimkich is the first to earn two UCLA Extension certificates. The 23-year-old California native with cerebral palsy proudly calls herself a “Bruin for life.” Dimkich celebrated the completion of her Early Childhood Education Certificate this past June during the UCLA Extension Certificate Graduation, standing alongside Dean Cathy Sandeen’s daughter who also graduated with the same certificate.
“Kimberly demonstrates that just because someone learns differently doesn’t mean that they can’t be successful,” noted Pathway Program Director Eric Latham. “She’s proof that if we remove barriers and provide the right kind of support, anyone can be successful in postsecondary education.” Read More >
If you are interested in Pathway and want to find out if it is right for you - try one of our open-enrollment classes!
Classes start September 24th
Introduction to Computers
This course is designed for individuals with intellectual disabilities to improve academic participation and social networking skills through the use of technology. Content includes experience-based instruction in the appropriate and safe use of the internet and basic computer applications including Microsoft Office.
Edward Jacobs, BA, has a thirty one year commitment to public education in Santa Monica as a classroom teacher. He served as the Technology Coordinator and Computer Teacher at John Adams Middle School from 1997- 2007. He has taught numerous district wide computer classes and implemented many staff developments related to technology over the past fifteen years.
Critical Thinking through Improvisation
Using improvisational and acting exercises, this course helps students increase critical thinking and social skills through a curriculum that introduces new levels of concentration, trust, and focus. Group and individual thinking and movement exercises aim to increase confidence, heighten imagination, and encourage spontaneity.
Patricia Jauchler, MA, MS, RDT/BCT, Using Drama Therapy and Psychodrama with a wide range of populations, Ms. Jauchler’s specialties include Into Action—using Drama Therapy and Psychodrama in Recovery and The ‘SpiSes’ of Life—action methods for building life management skills.
HOW TO ENROLL
Department approval is required; call (310) 794-1235 for assistance registering.
Sending a child away to college often requires sacrifice and determination from a family. With the increasing cost of higher education, sometimes it takes some creativity and the support of a community to make it happen. Over the years I have heard a lot of the ways big and small that folks have used to make college a reality for their family member. Last night I had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser for one of our incoming students, and got to see a community coming together to support a young man named Bill.
The unusual thing for me was that it was my community. It is not often that my personal and professional lives interact - mainly because work and home are so far apart geographically. So I was at the event, but not as the Director of Pathway, but as a member of the community. A few people there knew who I was, but it was really wonderful to see the event through a different set of eyes.
My daughter has been dancing at Village Dance Arts for almost 10 years. During that time Bill has been one of her consistent classmates. A great dancer, and always in need for the annual recital as one of the few boy dancers, Bill is an outgoing, gregarious young man. I had often chatted with Bill when I went to pick up my daughter after class, but I had never talked with him or his mom Denise about my work.
Through a couple of different connections, one being my daughter who provided information about the program, Bill came out for a visit, applied and was accepted into Pathway.
Last night Bill's family and friends held a fundraiser at the dance studio. What an amazing outpouring of support from the community. There must have been 70+ folks there, with music, dancing, and a raffle - all to raise money for Bill to go to college.
Our award winning Generation NeXt program is expanding beyond Los Angeles! We are looking for students aged 18-22 to participate in this one-year transition program.
Classes start in September. Apply today!
This program gives students an opportunity to continue their academic, career development, and independent living instruction while participating in a college program on the UCLA campus.
Generation Next is designed to give students with intellectual and developmental disabilities an opportunity to build academic, independent living, and vocational skills while participating in a university-based program.
Program highlights include:
Students live in an apartment building one block from the UCLA campus along with other students in the Pathway and Generation Next programs.
Resident Advisors live in the building and provide supervision to students overnight and on weekends.
Students attend classes offered through Pathway, UCLA Extension, UCLA Recreation, and may audit UCLA courses.
Educational coaches and tutors are available to support all students toward academic success.
Daily instruction on independent living skills provided by our partner agency Creative Support.
Students participate in weekly group internships at sites on the UCLA campus and surrounding community.
Students enjoy the many social, recreational, and cultural opportunities available on the UCLA campus.
A US Department of Education Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities grant covers most of the costs associated with the Generation Next.