By Jessica Tremea, Aggies Elevated mentor
For so long, I have heard people tell students with disabilities what they cannot do, what they will not achieve, and what they should not dream for. I have always found this to be unacceptable. Everyone should have the chance to try and achieve what they wish to. Yes, sometimes we all fail and struggle, but we should always have the opportunity to try to reach our dreams.
One reason I decided to study education and become a teacher was because I love watching and helping students to discover what they are passionate about. I love watching students build dreams based off of those passions, and come up with a plan to fulfill those dreams. I knew that as an Aggies Elevated mentor, I would be in the position to help these students with discovering and fulfilling their dreams. That is what education is all about, and these students have just as much a right to fulfilling their dreams as any other.
I knew that the students coming in to this program would have dreams and I wanted the chance to be the person that could give them the supports they need to succeed here. I am a student myself, studying elementary education and special education, and I know what it takes to succeed as a college student. I wanted to share that knowledge with these students. I wanted to experience college with them and watch as they learned what living on their own, going to school, and becoming independent is all about. I wanted to be there to help them when times get rough or when some unexpected life lesson comes up.
I remember what it was like moving out for the first time, trying to take care of myself, and trying to figure out who I was. I wanted to be there for these students as they tried to do the same. I thought that this program was such a wonderful opportunity for these students. This program allowed for them to finally have the chance to chase their dreams. No one would be here to tell them no, they can’t or shouldn’t, but we would be here to tell them that yes, they can and should!
We are here to help them and show them what they were really capable of doing. I have watched them so far and all the progress they are making and it is so wonderful. They are realizing that the future is in their hands. I have seen them discover their passions and dreams are possible and it is the most amazing thing ever. I am so lucky to work with these students and to be a mentor in this program. These students are going places, and I am proud to be a part of that.
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.