After high school, there weren’t many options for me. I didn’t have transportation to go to college, and I wasn’t sure if I could handle college courses, so I enrolled in a program at the community college that was a self-contained class. They picked me up and completed their schedule, but I didn’t come out of their course with many skills, other than learning how to browse the internet.

After completing that program, my parents and I didn’t know what I was going to do. We had some friends that were going through the same things. One of the parents got involved with some other families and started an agency called Family Capped. It was tiny with only a few families affected. That agency has now evolved into an agency called Advocates and serves over 1500 clients. At that time, I was one of the first people to try out the circle of determination (self-determination). It allowed me to pick what I wanted to do, have a mentor accompany me and provide transportation. My circle, a group of family, friends and I brainstormed to come up with what I wanted to do with my life. It was there that I decided I would like to take some college courses and take on some speaking opportunities.

My parents and I went to Onondaga Community College to see if I could enroll. It had been a couple of years since high school so they said I would have to take some placement tests. Even though I had passed the Math Regents in high school, I had to take that as well, and because I had been away from it so long, I did not do as well as I had hoped. It meant I would have to take more courses to get to the college level. It said I would have to pay for them, pass them but not get any credits toward my Associate’s degree from them. I believe I had to take three or four and because I take one class a semester, it took me a while. Happily, I passed everyone and could then start taking my actual courses toward my degree. It set me back a while but would not stop me from trying to get my degree.

I can say now I am well on my way. I have passed every class and have 37 credits hours toward my degree. I will not be stopped. I will get that degree. It will take me years because of all the other things that are going on in my life, but I will reach that goal.