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National Down Syndrome Society
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New York New York 10017
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Educational Equality
Educational Equality

My name is Rebecca Nagel and I would like to share a story about a recent experience I had. I recently visited East Stroudsburg University to look at the CILLS program for my brother. My brother is 20 years old and has Down syndrome. My brother is an incredible student, athlete, friend, brother and worker. He is a genuinely good and caring person. As he finishes his last year in high school, my family and I have been looking to see what options are out there for my brother. The CILLS program at East Stroudsburg stands for Career Independent Living and Learning Studies. It is a three year program for students with special needs. The program focuses on independence, self -discovery and vocational training while at the same time strives to give students with special needs a well -rounded liberal arts education and college experience. While I was at the information session, listening to the director tell the parents and families how exciting this opportunity is for their children, considering the former treatment of individuals with disabilities, I could not wipe the smile off my face. This would be an incredible opportunity for my brother to have a real college experience. When the director changed the slide to the program’s mission statement, I saw what college should be about. The mission statement described that this program will give students the opportunity for a liberal arts education, vocational training, self-awareness and self-reflection, and independent living skills. Is that not what every undergraduate institution should strive for? I am a huge supporter of the importance of a liberal arts education and see it as crucial for a student’s intellectual and identity development. The majority of undergraduate students, today, go to college for the experience and job preparation. Well, the CILLS program embodies all the aspects of a well- rounded college experience. This is what college is about. The opportunity to learn about yourself, to meet new and diverse people, to challenge yourself academically, to experience a variety of opportunities and to graduate a skilled and independent individual. During my visit, we heard from current students in the program explain why they wanted to come to college. Every single student said they wanted to learn and be independent. Regardless of your ability, race/ethnicity, economic status and whatever other backgrounds people may come from, everyone deserves this opportunity to learn. My visit to East Stroudsburg University reinforced why I want to be a part of higher education. As a first year Master’s student in Student Affairs and Higher Education, this is why I want to enter this field. I want to be able to affect change and empower students. Everyone deserves the opportunity for higher education. Everyone deserves to be treated justly.

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Comments (1,000 character limit)

Robyn Cline, United States, MI
12/18/2013 8:51:47 AM
everyone does deserve the chance to learn!

Janell, United States, MI
12/17/2013 9:55:13 PM
This is amazing. My son is just 5 years old and has Down Syndrome and I as I sit here and read your amazingly written story I wonder if there are programs like this in my area that my son and others in our area can take part in. I am eager to to find out although as a preschool student we have quite some time to go. You sound like a wonderful sister, you and your brother are lucky to have each other. Good luck!

patricia peraino, United States, PA
12/14/2013 9:37:12 AM

Lynne, United States, PA
12/13/2013 8:38:15 PM
This is amazing!! Its so beautifully written.

Doris Bartlett, United States, PA
12/13/2013 5:43:30 PM
This sounds awesome for special needs. Ronald sounded so excited when he spoke of this. Good Luck Ronald.

Denise Talley, United States, PA
12/13/2013 5:10:45 PM
Rebecca is a wonderful sister and loves to take care of her brother Ronald. She is the most wonderful sister Ronald could have.

Jennifer Pencek, United States, PA
12/13/2013 3:25:53 PM
Wonderful story. Good luck to your brother.

mariella frau, Italy,
12/13/2013 3:20:02 PM
condivido ciò che ha scritto Rebecca, Ronald deve avere tutte le possibilità di studio e lavoro perché è un ragazzo STRAORDINARIO !!!!!!

Courtney , United States, RI
12/13/2013 2:35:26 PM
Very inspirational! I know you'll be a leader in the field one day.

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