Iowa State University, in partnership with the Arc of Story County, is providing individuals with disabilities hands-on work experience to help them make the successful transition from school to adult life.
Recent high school graduates Andy Casady, Julia Martin, Paige Fritz, and Tom Burbey are gaining on-the-job experience through
Project SEARCH internships
in the College of Human Sciences. The interns will rotate between the School of Education and departments of kinesiology; apparel, events, and hospitality management; food science and human nutrition; and human development and family studies throughout the school year.
|Casady prepares assignments for a class in the School of Education.
"I'll have something to put on my resume," said Casady, who's currently interning with the School of Education and enjoys working with students. "I would love to be a math teacher because I'm really good at math, or work in a kitchen as a chef. I like having a wide variety of skills."
People with disabilities are employed at much lower rates than those without disabilities, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Project SEARCH -- formerly known as Students Exploring Alternative Resources at Children's Hospital -- enables young adults with developmental disabilities to gain and maintain employment through training and career exploration.
"Our interns are eager to learn and have a desire to work," said Lauren Wernau, a Project SEARCH skills instructor. "It is our goal that they will be employed in the community upon graduation and will be able to proudly answer the question, 'What do you do?' I could not be more impressed with their success thus far and am excited to see their progress in the months to come."
Project SEARCH is a natural fit for the College of Human Sciences given its motto is to expand human potential and improve people's lives. Diversity and social responsibility are key initiatives of the college, which strives to create a stimulating, holistic, and nourishing environment for people of all backgrounds, cultures, religions, socio-economic statuses, and abilities.
"I think it's important for our faculty and our students to understand that they're going to encounter diversity not only in our classrooms, but in society," said
, a senior lecturer in special education who is leading implementation of the program.
Did you know?
Project SEARCH has more than
around the world. However, due to lack of internship sites within higher education, Iowa State has emerged as a leader in this effort.