Career Jenga

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Sadie watches as Jonas pushes a block out of the tower during a game of Career Jenga. The occupation on the block was “archeologist,” and the students identified many skills required for it, (including the knowledge of a long list of dinosaurs!).

Students in the Career Exploration 1 class celebrated the end of the assessment phase with a rousing game of Career Jenga!

Since the beginning of the semester, students have been exploring their interests, personality types, work values, work skills and transferable skills with a series of computer-based assessments. These assessments are designed to help the students identify interests and strengths as they begin to determine whether a career is a good fit.

Each Jenga block is labeled with an occupation or career. As a student pulls out a block, the class brainstorms three skills that might be required for the occupation printed on the block. The new cohort has steady eyes and steady hands—the tower only fell once!

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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.

Base Camp highlights!

Base Camp, an intensive orientation to college for students in the Aggies Elevated program, started Sunday, Aug. 20 with a pizza party at the new Center for Clinical Excellence at Utah State University. Five returning and eight new students, three mentors, staff and a few family members celebrated the start of the new school year.

Monday’s activities included a group photo, and a discussion of plagiarism and college research in which students were partnered and assigned to create a 5-minute presentation on the topic of their choice. This presentation was a crash course in working with a partner and practicing research, outlining and presentation skills.

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Other Monday seminars included Organization 101, in which students brainstormed ways in which to keep computers, files, backpacks and planners organized; Healthy Campus Living, in which students learned about the myriad food choices on campus and how to make healthier choices; and Becoming a Techie, an introduction to Canvas, Box, Google Calendar, and more. In addition, the students went canoeing on the Logan River at First Dam with Common Ground Outdoor Adventures before returning to campus for a reflection activity with mentors. On Tuesday, the first-year students checked in for Connections. In this class, students will discuss the Common Literature Experience, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, and get connected with classmates and campus resources.

 

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Wow, those onions are strong! Making taco salads for lunch at Options for Independence.

After checking in, all the students, along with two staff and two mentors, rode the free Cache Valley Transit District busses to Options for Independence, the local Independent Living Center. There, students planned a lunch of taco salads, made grocery lists, shopped for supplies, and cooked lunch for themselves. After lunch, the student teams gave the presentations that had been assigned the day before.

On Wednesday, the freshmen attended their all-day Connections classes, while the returning students attended an internship orientation meeting and then met with Savanna Steed, a former Aggies Elevated mentor and current MyCLIMB coordinator, to discuss the person-centered planning process.

Connections continued on Thursday and Friday for the new students. Classes officially began at USU on Monday, Aug. 27.

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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.

Golden Key Awards

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On September 28, 2016, two Aggies Elevated students were honored with scholarships at the annual Governor’s Golden Key Awards! Governor Gary Herbert presented the awards to first-year students Josh and Berkeley at a ceremony in Salt Lake City. Later in the week, Josh and Berkeley celebrated with the other Aggies Elevated students with cupcakes and soda.

In addition, Aggies Elevated as a program was recognized for its efforts to promote awareness, advocate and empower people with disabilities in Utah.

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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.

Every Aggie Can Be Elevated

Independent filmmaker Ben Stamper visited Utah State University in April 2015 to document the end of the first year of the Aggies Elevated program. Many thanks to Ben for capturing the students–and the spirit of the program–so brilliantly.

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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.

Elevated Aggies: “Year in Review”

Independent filmmaker Ben Stamper visited Utah State University in April 2015 to document the end of the first year of the Aggies Elevated program. Many thanks to Ben for capturing the students–and the spirit of the program–so brilliantly.

*****

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.

Making Connections

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The Aggies Elevated family in the homeroom.

Aggies Elevated students take part in Connections, a class targeted toward freshmen with the intent of helping them form relationships—connections—with other students and the larger campus community.

A large part of the Connections class is the Common Literature Experience, in which all students read the same book over the summer and come to class prepared to discuss it. This year’s literature selection was The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko. The book explored the history of the Grand Canyon and its relationship to those who want to use its water for recreation, farming and other uses.

The following message was written by Mykel Beorchia, an academic advisor in the Quinney College of Natural Resources who teaches a section of Connections. It is shared by permission of Mykel and the Aggies Elevated students named in the story.

“THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for allowing me to be part of the Aggies Elevated program. I have Jason and Dana in my class. I hope it is ok that I share this with you.

“Today we did a fishbowl activity focused on The Emerald Mile. The class sits in a circle with three people in the middle sitting on chairs facing each other. I give a topic and the three people in the middle discuss the topic. When someone from the outside wants to say something, they raise their hand trade places with the person in the middle. We started the conversation with ‘Who do you most relate to in the book?’ Jason and Dana gave great answers that indicated they really spent time reading and comprehending the book.

“The next question focused on Moitessier (pg 167), who didn’t complete his goal because he realized the point of his endeavor was the journey itself, not the destination. Dana was appropriately open about her experience and explained that people have been telling her for her whole life that she cannot go to college. She said she was determined to go to college and has had to work twice as hard as her peers to be here. She truly believes that learning is a gift. It changed the vibe of the whole room! Other students began opening up about their experiences and their goals in ‘becoming a learner’ as college students. Jason talked about being so excited to be in college and taking advantage of all of his opportunities. Two really great moments I’ll remember for a very long time.

“Thanks again for letting me be part of the Aggies Elevated world.”

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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.

Aggies Elevated to be subject of documentary

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Filmmaker Ben Stamper observes during a recent Aggies Elevated class.

A documentary filmmaker from New York City will be at Utah State University the week of April 20 to document the Center for Persons with Disabilities’ Aggies Elevated program.

Ben Stamper visited the campus recently to learn more about the program, and spent a day with the students and program staff. Stamper learned about Aggies Elevated through Beth Foley, dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. Foley is also acting as associate producer of another film he’s creating about an artist on the autism spectrum.

“I’m excited about this project,” Stamper said. “It seems like a good fit for me to make, after seeing what you’re doing out here. My goal is to create a dialogue, and ultimately to expect more from people with disabilities. Disability is only a small section of this life. It doesn’t define who they are or what they’re about. We need to instill respect for people by seeing their perspective … Respect and dignity is at the heart of it.”

Stamper envisions a student-centric approach to filming.

“It will really be from the students’ perspective–why they’ve come here and what they’re getting out of it, rather than the type of approach that promotes what it is from everyone else’s perspective,” he said.

During his recent visit, Stamper sat in on a meeting between Aggies Elevated student Jenna and her mentor, Shelby Foster, and was impressed with the amount of information that was covered.

“They talked about four or five different areas, from social strategies to schedules to homework to accountability with health habits, to life goals and planning for extracurricular activities,” he said. “I was impressed with Shelby–she really had a handle on providing accountability with no judgment. She told Jenna, ‘the important thing is that you’re honest with yourself.’ It was more the spirit of ‘this is important to do for yourself.’”

Stamper’s visit showed him the program’s expectations for the students always push them outward.

“(Staff) provide support, but real challenge,” he said. “That’s how any of us learn. This is not failure. As a parent, the hardest thing to do is to stand back and watch a child fail. Aggies Elevated provides something that’s very different than a parent can provide in a home environment. I imagine this transforms (the parents’) view and approach of parenting as well.”

For more information on Stamper and his work, click here.

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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.

Aggies Elevated student to climb for a cause

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Troy Shumway will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in June to raise money for Aggies Elevated, a program that changed the course of his life.

What would you do for a program that changed the course of your life?

Troy Shumway is climbing Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro—at 19,341 feet, the highest mountain on the African continent—in June 2015.

He’s doing it to raise awareness—and money—for Aggies Elevated, a privately funded, two-year program at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Aggies Elevated, whose tagline is “Climb Higher,” offers a real-life college experience to young adults with intellectual disabilities. Young adults who have the same dreams and aspirations as other college students, but who, until recently, have not had the same opportunities.

Troy is one of those students. The 20-year-old San Diego, Calif., native, who loves Marvel comics and action movies, is completing his first year at Aggies Elevated and has experienced the program’s benefits first-hand. And now he intends to pay it forward, by climbing higher than he has ever has before.

“It would be great to have other kids with disabilities be able to come to college and learn to be more independent, like I did,” Troy said. “

Troy wants to use his climb to give another student the opportunity he’s embraced at Utah State. He wants to raise $40,000—the amount it costs to fund the academic and social supports including mentors, tutors and staff—for one Aggies Elevated student. (Anything over $40,000 means additional students can be supported!)

To donate, click the “donate” button to the right, or click here.

There are five giving options:
$19                 Mt. Kilimanjaro is more than 19,000 feet high.
$98                 Mt. Kilimanjaro is more than 9,800 miles from Troy’s hometown of San Diego.
$130               The cost per school day to support each Aggies Elevated student.
$300              $1 for each school day of the Aggies Elevated program.
$??                  A donation amount of your own choosing, for the most adventurous!

Donations to Aggies Elevated at Utah State University are tax-deductible. You will receive a receipt of your donation via e-mail.

Visit the Aggies Elevated web site here.

“Like” the Aggies Elevated Facebook page here.

To send your donation via check, or to inquire about corporate or ongoing support for Aggies Elevated, contact Shane Johnson at 435-797-9070.

Media inquiries, contact Sue Reeves at 435-797-1977.

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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.

Students of the Month for February

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From left, Sarah, Jenna and Natalie. Congrats, Students of the Month!

Three Aggies Elevated students were recognized recently for their hard work during the month of February.

Jenna was named the Audacious Aggie for February for stepping out of her comfort zone in a difficult class.

Natalie was named Scholar of the Month for February for making an effort to improve her note-taking skills.

Sarah was named Associate Aggie for February for working hard on her roommate relationship.

Aggies Elevated program director Sarah Stone presented the awards, which are determined by program staff. The students received a certificate and a treat. Their photos will hang in the Aggies Elevated program space until the next month’s winners are named.

Congratulations Jenna, Natalie and Sarah, our Aggies Elevated Students of the Month for February!

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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.

Captain America stood on a pink wall

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Students earned sandwich ingredients by writing a paragraph using the “paragraph sandwich” model.

Activities in the Reading Strategies for Success class have included silly sentences and paragraph sandwiches, as well as more traditional activities like vocabulary quizzes and writing assignments.

In the silly sentence exercise, students were given strips of colored paper and asked to write different parts of speech on each one—for example, someone’s name (Joe) or a title (the bus driver) or a person (my brother) on the yellow strips, a thing (the wall, a submarine) on the blue strips, a place (New York City, downstairs ) on the green strips and a time (yesterday, this afternoon) on the red strips. The words were randomly selected to create grammatically correct, but ridiculously nonsensical sentences, like “Captain America stood on a pink wall in Antarctica in the year 3000.”

Paragraph sandwiches were introduced as a fun way to help organize students’ thoughts while completing writing assignments. The paragraph’s thesis, or main topic, was described as the top piece of bread. The bottom piece of bread makes the transition, or tells how the paragraph is related, to the rest of the writing assignment. The middle of the sandwich is the “good stuff,” the supporting sentences that bridge the gap between the thesis and the rest of the paper. Students had the opportunity to “earn” sandwich ingredients like bread, peanut butter, jam and banana slices by writing a paragraph.

“The purpose of the functional reading and writing class is to help students understand the essentials of communication, from reading a bus schedule to making a grocery list to writing a cover letter,” said teacher Sarah Stone.

And while assistive technology can make many reading- and writing-related tasks easier for the students, it can’t actually communicate for them.

“Communication is the transfer of information from one person to another, and it is essential to independent living,” said teaching assistant Sue Reeves, who presented the modules on sentences and paragraphs. “Learning to construct a sentence or organize thoughts into a paragraph are foundational skills, whether a student types on a keyboard or dictates into a talk-to-text iPad app.”

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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.