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Institute Program Celebrates Commencement

Philadelphia, PA–May 5, 2010

Photo: Academy for Adult Learning groupThe Academy for Adult Learning, a program of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, held a commencement ceremony for its third class on Wednesday, May 5 in the Grand Court, Mitten Hall on the University's main campus. More than 125 family and friends joined the staff of the Institute as Executive Director David Mitchell addressed the class and congratulated them on this significant accomplishment.

The Academy's nine non-matriculated students have spent the past four semesters here at Temple taking classes and learning about life around campus. For each of those four semesters, they have been mentored by Temple students, to help navigate college life.

"This has been a great group of students and mentors," says Kathy Miller, Assistant Director of the Institute. "The mentor/student partnerships worked together well from the beginning and each continued to grow throughout the two years."

Funded primarily by Mental Retardation Services in Philadelphia, the objective of the Academy is to provide an authentic learning experience for individuals with intellectual disabilities with customized goals based on each Academy student's interests and personalized outcomes.

Academy students must meet certain criteria (they must be between 18 and 30 years of age and must be able to travel to campus independently, for example) and are selected after an application and interview process. Mentors must be matriculated Temple students and must also undergo an application and interview process. Once selected, the students and mentors meet and the partnerships are set. Kathy says that many of the partnerships established between the Academy students and mentors over two years have evolved into authentic friendships. "They've achieved a great deal together and as a group. They've really served as a model for the next class."

For example, Albert, a student in the Academy and Tamika, an education major at Temple and an Academy mentor, are both parents. They immediately understood the challenges that each had to face, being a parent and a student while working too. And, Jenn, a mentor to Joe, lost her grandmother during this semester, spending a week away from campus for the funeral, during which she called countless times to check Joe's progress.

With the help of mentors, Academy and Temple staff and faculty, some Academy students have achieved remarkable things. Denea has a strong passion for gardening, having worked in the garden with her mom all of her life. Because of this passion, she completed the internship portion of the program in the Horticultural Department working in the greenhouse on the Ambler campus. Denea's supervisor gave her great reviews for being punctual, organized and for following direction. Stephanie was able to successfully move into a residence away from her family and was able to find employment using the resume building and interviewing skills learned during the program. Katrina accessed resources from the Institute to overcome some lifelong challenges, researching and receiving appropriate services. Anthony lost his greatest supporter and guardian, his grandmother. But, he didn't give up. He just kept working, maintained his focus in class, determined to complete his last few weeks of school to graduate with his classmates. Titania Boddie, Academy Coordinator, said that Anthony went from a person who could not cross the street to someone who now, after the program, takes public transportation.

More information, for student or mentor applications http://disabilities.temple.edu/programs/inclusive/aal.shtml or iod@temple.edu

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