Meet Sarah, a member of the first cohort of Aggies Elevated students at Utah State University.
Sarah has had a lot of fun in the short time she’s been on campus, but has discovered that college is hard work, too.
“College is very, very, very cool,” she said. “Meeting new friends and living independently—it’s been a blast.
“But the classes are hard,” she continued. “There’s a lot expected of you. There’s a ton of homework.”
The Aggies Elevated program has several built-in supports to help students manage the sometimes-overwhelming workload. Class-specific tutors lead weekly study groups, and mentors each work with two students on everything from time management to social skills to, yes, homework help.
“Not many people have mentors or study groups,” Sarah said. “It’s nice to have a mentor we can go to with anything.”
Sarah’s original mentor had to leave the program for personal reasons shortly after the semester began, but was quickly replaced by Mindy Thornley. The transition was a little hard at first, Sarah said.
“But (program director) Sarah Stone asked me to give her a chance. I miss the old one, but Mindy is just what we need,” Sarah said.
Meetings with her mentor and the study groups, in addition to classes, take a lot of time, but Sarah has found the opportunity to get involved on campus. She has joined the LDS Students Association and helps out on the service and publicity committees.
She is also waiting to hear if she has been accepted into Kappa Delta. The sorority’s USU chapter had never before had a request from an individual with disabilities to join. The university has given permission, but the national organization has not yet communicated a decision.
Many family members have been involved in Greek life, Sarah said, and she wants to continue that tradition of involvement and service.
Aggies Elevated at Utah State University believes that all individuals, regardless of ability, have the right to meaningful employment, lifelong learning, self-determination and full community inclusion. Utilizing the MyCLIMB (My Career Ladder to Independence, Maturity & Balance) person-centered planning model, Aggies Elevated students, along with invited family members and/or other stakeholders, will chart their own paths toward independence within an individualized framework of supports that identifies challenges, builds on individual strengths and encourages personal responsibility.