Currently, I serve as a mentor to students in the Career and Community Studies (CCS) program and help them with academic work. I have only been with the students for two months but the growth that I have seen in each and every student has been mind-blowing. Their skills in communication, social situations, travel, safety, independence, understanding of self (needs, wants, and preferences), and self-advocacy has grown at very rapid pace. Speaking on the communication skill, we have a student who would only respond with one word responses. In a short time he is now speaking in full sentences. This has been amazing to see. This particular student has begun to ask questions and will even raise his hand to answer a question during class, all in a matter of just a few weeks. I have learned the value of raising the bar and supporting the student to meet higher expectations.
I truly believe the CCS program is a valuable experience for the students. For one, at the beginning of their college experience they are receiving intensive instruction and mentor support. As students gain confidence and develop stronger skills, the support is slowly faded. I witness students becoming more independent each and every day. Learning opportunities never stop. Students learn in class, after class, at lunch, during social activities, and when navigating campus and in the surrounding community. Without this intense instruction and guidance, the CCS students would not be able to progress as fast as they are. Students are gaining excellent communication skills and developing relationships with peers that they can take with them as they progress in their college years and well after college.