Being a mentor in the Career & Community Studies Program is the best job on campus! When I was in high school I volunteered to help students with special needs. When I started at Kent State I felt like something was missing. I wanted more opportunities to volunteer and to help others. It was then that I found the CCS program. I started off as a volunteer my freshman semester as an academic mentor. I accompanied a student to class to help him become comfortable in a college environment and to learn the expectations of attending a college class. Afterwards I would tutor and help him work on assignments. As the semester progressed, I could see his comfort level and confidence grow as he participated with other Kent State students. His grades improved, and he knew what was expected. But what was happening with me is that I felt that I had a purpose and it solidified my decision to become a Speech Pathologist and I want to work in schools.
My role in the CCS program changed the second year. I became an Independent Living Mentor (ILM). The role of an ILM is to guide CCS students who live on campus to connect to social clubs, organizations, and campus activities. We meet with students evenings and weekends and teach them how to get involved. I enjoy hanging out with the students and to hear about how their day went. I notice that they are more comfortable and familiar with Kent’s campus. They all enjoy their independence and I love how skills like time management and organization improve. One of the best times is helping the students find clubs to join. I go with them to club meetings a few times until they are comfortable and can do it on their own and they have developed connections to other members.
I believe that being part of the CCS program will help my career because I am gaining experience in helping students become more independent and helping them vocalize, or advocate, for what they want and feel. This program is excellent because it adds diversity to Kent’s campus and it also helps to prove that students with intellectual disabilities can do what other college students do.