Conestoga’s School of Life and Health Sciences and Community Services recognized the first graduates of its Community Integration through Cooperative Education (CICE) program at a celebration on January 11 at the Doon campus.
Conestoga celebrated its first CICE graduates at a celebration on January 11. L-R: Conestoga president John Tibbits, graduate Jessica Hannah, Community Services dean Goranka Vukelich, program manager Shannon Lipskie
The innovative two-year certificate program helps students with learning challenges and developmental disabilities achieve their potential and become contributing members of the community.
“All credit goes to the staff here,” said Anu More, a parent to one of the graduates, who described her son’s journey at Conestoga and the transformation she has seen in him. “I really thank you. He is a motivated young man now.”
More said her son Akarsh graduated high school in 2012, but was left with few post-secondary options to meet his learning needs. “My son asked me if this is what life is like after high school and I had no answer for him,” said More. “He didn’t have any direction so finding this program was such a relief. He used to be very timid and had trouble expressing himself, but now he is more confident and motivated. I have seen a big change in his personality and that has helped us as parents.”
More also credited Conestoga for integrating CICE students into the community. “I wondered how Akarsh would demonstrate the skills he learned here to an employer, but the college has done all the work for us by going out into the community and making those connections,” explained More.
The CICE program includes a number of core courses that include human relations and communications, job and life skills, computer skills and health and wellness. Other courses are drawn from diploma programs and have been modified to suit the unique learning needs of the students.
Throughout the program CICE students also participate in work placements intended to develop and enhance work skills and involvement in the community. The goal is to transition students into volunteer positions or part-time or full-time employment.
“We’re committed to this community and we’re giving everyone the opportunity to be the best they can be,” said Conestoga president John Tibbits. He congratulated the graduating class and extended thanks to the team of faculty, support staff and administrators involved with the CICE program. President Tibbits also recognized the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation for its generous support of the program.
Community Services dean Goranka Vukelich said the CICE program demonstrates Conestoga’s vision to provide inclusive education and expects the annual intake will grow to 20 students over the next few years.
The nine CICE graduates began the program in January 2015 and will participate in Conestoga’s Spring Convocation this June.
“We wish you well,” said Vukelich to the graduates. “We hope you know there is always a door here for you.”
For more information, visit the CICE program page