On the Road to Success by Julian S.
One day, I imagine myself working at a library, living in a nice house, and perhaps supporting a family. While this dream may sound easy to reach, it is something not so easily attainable among individuals with disabilities. According to the National Council on Disability (NCD), statistics show that “individuals with disabilities are more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as individuals without disabilities” (New Freedom Initiative, 2001). This is why College to Career, or C2C for short, exists. It helps students with disabilities, like myself, succeed in life.
Prior to C2C, I started college at California State University Long Beach after graduating from high school. My first college year was disastrous, as I did not pass any of my classes due to many unfortunate circumstances, such as my confusion with how the assignments were posted, my laptop computer dying in the middle of the college year, and mainly, my autism disability. After that fiasco, I tried to get into Long Beach City College, but failed because I missed the cutoff date. Challenges like these are not uncommon among students with developmental disabilities. In fact, NCD points out that “young adults with disabilities in postsecondary education are less likely to persevere and complete a degree or certificate than are their peers without disabilities.” Fortunately, my counselor from Harbor Regional Center referred me to C2C, which was recently implemented in October of 2011. I was hesitant at first, but my family told me that this was my best bet to make something of myself, so I tried it, and have stuck with it ever since.
My weekly C2C schedule consists of attending my required, fully-integrated classes in the morning, then participating in four hours of Educational Coaching, and finally going home to do two hours of support with my Direct Support Provider (DSP). Thanks to my Educational Coaches, I have learned school skills that even my teachers have not taught me and I have become more diligent in completing my homework. Thanks to my DSPs, I have become more efficient and more independent in cleaning my house, buying my groceries, and preparing my meals. In fact, I actually enjoy doing these responsibilities. Not to mention, thanks to HOPE, I live in a beautiful house with three other roommates, which is conveniently located just a couple of blocks away from campus.
Both components of C2C (college and independent living), promote independence and encourage community integration. Activities and field trips, such as “Guys/Girls Night,” “Cooking Class,” the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Gardens, all teach important social skills.
It is really important for students with disabilities to get the support they need to get on track and reach their goals. In just one year of actively participating in C2C, I have had internship opportunities and have been recognized on the Dean’s List with Highest Distinction. I am on track to graduating with an AA in Library Science and aspire to transfer to CSULB after I meet all my goals with C2C. I, Julian, am proud to be part of a program that is paving the way for other students with disabilities; we are changing the statistics one student at a time. My story is a true testimony that a disability does not have to stop a person’s success.