“Inclusive Higher Ed” programs opening doors to young adults with intellectual and developmental disability

Colton acceptance letter
Colton Vazquez with his acceptance letter from Slippery Rock University.

Recently, I wrote an article about “inclusive higher ed” programs for Public Source, a digital publication that covers the Pittsburgh region. The focus of the article is Colton Vazquez, a senior at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, who has decided to attend the “Rock Life” program at Slippery Rock University.

I first heard about Colton’s college aspirations last year when his mother, Candy Vazquez, posted on Facebook about their visits to Slippery Rock, Millersville and E. Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania, as well as Western Carolina and the University of Central Florida. Having taken my son, Mark, to see  Millersville’s inclusive program last year as well, I was curious about Colton’s journey.

The number of inclusive higher ed programs is growing in Pennsylvania. There are now ten (see complete list in article). A decade ago, there were two. Each program is a little different from the others. Most are defined as non-degree programs for students with intellectual or developmental disability. The Think College website is the national resource for these programs. In Pennsylvania, the Dream Partnership and PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium are the go-to’s for info.

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