By Nicole Hughes, Berkeley Center Career Coordinator
Who would have thought, a “one time” student panel/speaking engagement at Touro University, in the autism studies MA program, would have turned into an ongoing mentoring opportunity?
This past summer, 4 of our CIP Berkeley students were invited to Touro University to be a part of a panel about Asperger’s. They spoke to a group of both professionals and grad students about their experiences here at CIP. They were given six discussion questions to stimulate conversation.
The audience was highly impressed by the way our students presented themselves in a very professional and sophisticated manner. Our students were very articulate and had tremendous insight. Everyone was dressed for the occasion and did an awesome job.
One day later, Janet Miller, Berkeley Center Program Director, received an e-mail from Jennifer Carvalho, Assistant Director of Spectrum Center Schools, stating that she was able to hear the panel of four speak at Touro University and was quite impressed. She wanted to explore some mentoring opportunities with our students speaking to their middle and high school students with Asperger’s. Jennifer was hoping to have them come to the classroom and initially speak about their experience with Asperger’s and discuss topics about high school and college; to become role models/mentors for the students.
Spectrum Center schools have been providing special education services to the San Francisco Bay Area since 1975. This program was founded as an alternative for students whose disabilities prevented them from attending public school. They offer a full range of education services for students with severe emotional and behavioral challenges.
After careful planning, coordinating and scheduling, Nicole Hughes, Berkeley Center Career Coordinator, and Jennifer Carvalho finally came up to an agreement; that it would be great for the students to begin mentoring this fall!
October 9th, was the first day of this spectacular opportunity. The students that were involved were; Kaitlyn Finn, Jason Kanar, Jonathan King, and Spencer White. They all showed up on time and were ready to get down to business. According to Jennifer Carvalho, the four students did an excellent job on their first day with the students. She was very impressed and is looking forward to working with them on an on-going basis.
Not only was Jennifer impressed, but the students were impressed as well. “I really had a great time there, and I wish I could do it more than once a month,” says Kaitlyn Finn. This is going to be a great experience for these four students. To be able to help high school students going through similar experiences will be a great reward for our CIP students. I’m excited about their future. Way to go……. Spencer, Jason, Jonathan, and Kaitlin!