Beyond Academics and the Richard Parker Beyond Academics Merit Scholarship
Imagine the magnitude of lost potential if students had no colleges or universities to attend after graduating high school. That is the sad reality for most students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as limited options hinder their ambitions for higher education. UNC Greensboro, however, is working hard to rewrite this narrative through its Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) also known as Beyond Academics.
Created by UNCG Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Dr. Terri Shelton, Beyond Academics is the first of three post-secondary programs in North Carolina for students with I/DD and currently the only four-year program of its kind in the state. Those who enroll and complete the Beyond Academics program earn a certificate in Integrative Community Studies from the UNCG Office of the Provost and receive training that prepares them for the current job market, independent living, and engaging in civic and social activity.
“Beyond Academics taught me to be brave and smart and apply for jobs,” stated student Carter Williams. “I learned how to live by myself in a dorm and how to live with roommates in an apartment. I made lots of friends and learned how to manage money better, too. Classes are hard, but I learn a lot. “
Through their studies, these students get the full college experience — living on campus and attending classes like pupils in other disciplines. They are required to earn 90-120 credits while completing 130 internship hours, 200 service hours, and a capstone portfolio that exhibits the skills they have developed at the University. In doing so, they reduce their need for public assistance while also changing the public perspective of their capabilities. A majority leave the program already employed and ready to tackle the challenges of independent living.
A consistent challenge, however, is cost. Students like Carter thrive in this environment, but without financial assistance, many would not be able to attend. Carter, specifically, is fortunate to benefit from the Richard Parker Beyond Academics Merit Scholarship, which was recently established in April.
“When I wanted to come to UNCG from Oklahoma, my parents said it would cost a lot of money. But I really wanted to come to UNCG Beyond Academics,” stated Carter. “The scholarship money really helps with the cost, and it means a lot to me and my family.”
The Richard Parker Beyond Academics Merit Scholarship operates on donated funds, which make an immediate impact on UNCG students with I/DD and further the cause of destigmatizing intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Addressing the Scholarship Committee directly, Carter stated, “I would not be at college without Beyond Academics… Thank you!”
To make a donation to the Richard Parker Beyond Academics Merit Scholarship please click here. All donations are appreciated!
Story by Brittany Cameron, Donor Relations
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