The First Group of Students With Intellectual Disabilities Gets Ready to Graduate From Kent State’s Career and Community Studies Program

Maddie Morsefield is like any other high-achieving college senior at Kent State University. She is a straight-A student. Her résumé is filled with work experience and awards, and she is going through mock interviews to help her land that first job.

But what makes Morsefield extra special is that she is part of the first group of students with intellectual disabilities getting ready to graduate after completing a four-year program at Kent State. 

Watch a video about Kent State’s Career and Community Studies Program and its first graduates.

“My strength is being kind, being smart, being elegant, being respectful to each other and being a really good leader,” said Morsefield with a smile.

She is one of 20 students in Kent State’s Career and Community Studies Program. Kent State is one of 27 universities nationwide offering the program, which was funded by a federal grant for its first four years. Next school year, students will pay tuition similar to what degree-seeking students pay.

The program is designed to provide an education that was not otherwise offered after high school.

“What research shows is that students always do better when they’re with their typical peers,” said Tom Hoza, Ph.D., Kent State’s director of outreach and employment for the Career and Community Services Program. “And where do a lot of their typical peers go? They go on to postsecondary education, colleges and universities.”

The program focuses on three areas starting with academics, where college classes are modified to fit each student’s needs.

The program also promotes independent living. Students who qualify live in the  College of Education, Health and Human Services Living-Learning Community in a residence hall designed for students in the college.

Lastly, the program nurtures career development. Students not only work on campus, but also in the community through internships that help improve their work and social skills.

“It’s been so exciting to see everyone grow socially, academically and in their career field,” Hoza said.

The students will graduate May 5, 2015. Instead of a college diploma, they will receive a record of completion and go through their own commencement-like ceremony in the Kent State Student Kiva for completing the non-degree, four-year college experience.

“I’m really happy to graduate from college,” said Morsefield, who hopes to find work in hospitality services or event planning.

For more information about Kent State’s Career and Community Studies Program, visit


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Photo Caption:
Career and Community Studies student Maddie Morsefield and Tom Hoza, Ph.D., director of outreach and employment, take a break from a mock interview class.

Media Contacts:
Vonnie Michali,, 330-672-0725
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 2:08pm
UPDATED: Friday, January 11, 2019 - 4:23pm
Kristin Anderson