In­clu­sive post-sec­ondary at­ti­tude at MHC

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Post - CON­TRIB­UTED

Sup­port­ing stu­dents to ful­fill their dreams of liv­ing the col­lege ex­pe­ri­ence is both a priv­i­lege and pas­sion for Karen Neu­man.

With over 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, Neu­man has com­mit­ted her ca­reer to work­ing with stu­dents who are at-risk or have de­vel­op­ment dis­abil­i­ties. She started at Medicine Hat Col­lege (MHC) five years ago and rep­re­sents In­clu­sion Al­berta on cam­pus, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides ad­vo­cacy and sup­port for chil­dren and adults liv­ing with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties across Al­berta.

“MHC opens the door to a broad scope of learn­ers,” ex­plains the In­clu­sive Post­Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion co­or­di­na­tor. “This ini­tia­tive demon­strates one more way MHC reaches di­verse learn­ers who look to­wards be­ing con­tribut­ing mem­bers of our col­lege com­mu­nity and to the com­mu­nity of Medicine Hat af­ter com­ple­tion of their stud­ies.”

Four stu­dents are en­rolled at MHC this year in a va­ri­ety of pro­grams in­clud­ing crim­i­nal jus­tice, gen­eral stud­ies, en­vi­ron­men­tal science, and oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy/phys­i­cal ther­apy as­sis­tant. Fac­ulty and ad­min­is­tra­tion have em­braced the con­cept and stu­dents feel sup­ported in their stud­ies.

The stu­dents au­dit the cour­ses and Neu­man, to­gether with ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ta­tor Tanya Keeler, as­sist the stu­dents aca­dem­i­cally by man­ag­ing their work­load and help­ing adapt course ma­te­rial to their learn­ing style. Stu­dents may have past aca­demic ex­pe­ri­ences where they have been sep­a­rated or ex­cluded from typ­i­cal learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments so to have them be part of the col­lege cul­ture, in­struc­tional in­clu­sion and rou­tine is crit­i­cal to their ex­pe­ri­ence.

At the end of their stud­ies, stu­dents re­ceive a Cer­tifi­cate of Com­ple­tion and walk across the stage at con­vo­ca­tion with their peers. Neu­man also con­nects stu­dents and grad­u­ates with work place­ments, pro­vides ad­vo­cacy for fam­i­lies within the com­mu­nity, and sup­ports col­leagues from other pro­vin­cial post-sec­ondary ini­tia­tives with as­pects of their work.

“See­ing a stu­dent at­tend con­vo­ca­tion and cross the stage with their peers is a proud mo­ment for me and a spe­cial part of my job. It’s an hon­our to share in the ex­pe­ri­ence with the stu­dent and their fam­ily," says Neu­man.

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