JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Miles Bennett and DeAngelo Pender, two seniors at Science Hill High School, signed to join the Access ETSU program on Friday.
The program offers support for young adults with intellectual disabilities and covers participating students for two years.
Melody Blevins, ETSU project manager, said the Access program gives students equal opportunity to follow their career goals and have a better outlook for future employment.
“Historically, students with intellectual disabilities are underserved as far as all areas of their lives, but especially with employment,” said Blevins. “They’re typically working entry-level jobs or they’re not working at all, so it’s great for them to be able to come and choose a career that they’re interested in, just like everybody else on this campus does and to be able to fulfill their dreams.”
Blevins said the program is about knocking down barriers and ensuring college is for everybody who wants it.
Bennett said he is excited to study at ETSU in the fall, noting that he would like to study biomechanics.
The signing event involved both Bennett and Pender signing the papers for the program and receiving a certificate of congratulations.
Blevins said the program is competitive.
“This year we had about 22 applicants and we had four spots to fill,” Blevins said.
Edwin Santana is a transition case manager at Science Hill and has been working alongside Bennett and Pender for more than five years.
“I’ve gotten to see them, grow and develop over the years,” said Santana. “So that’s, that’s a beautiful thing.”
Santana said the program is essential to academic growth.
“Programs like this are growing across the state and nationwide,” said Santana. “So it’s great for them to have an opportunity to further their education.”