Paige McKay Kubik presented Ms. Susanna Miller-Raines, Statewide Coordinator of the Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium. The Consortium enables access to college for students with disabilities. The GA Consortium has nine members, seven 4-year colleges (KSU, GSU, Columbus State, GT, Georgia Southern, UGA, Univ. of West GA), one 2-year college (East Georgia State College), and one technical college (Albany Technical College). Additionally, Georgia College & State University’s membership in imminent. Susanna provided a rationale for promoting postsecondary for students with disabilities, quoting Madeleine Will: Postsecondary education is a most important key to shaping a new reality for people with disabilities. It has the exciting potential to create a future based not on low expectations, the cant’s and shouldn’ts, but on the high expectations of productivity and personal and economic freedom.
Susanna stressed key reasons for building pathways for students with disabilities attending college: (1) Students with intellectual disabilities see higher education as important and attainable. (2) Access to college enables more students to have more ways to contribute to their own self and community development, and become more marketable. (3) Most who’ve gone to college learned self-management, self-determination, became more motived and learned social skills not possible outside of the college experience. (4) College generally helps students prepare for adulthood.
Susanna presented Mr. Darien Todd, who has become an “Exhibit A” for the importance of college exposure. Darien said he did not think of himself as a college person. But when becoming engaged at KSU through an internship and through many interactions, he learned networking skills and discovered how to be an important advocate for college for students, like him, who have disabilities. He learned management skills, how to access job opportunities for himself and others with disabilities, and to become an effective communicator in stating the importance of the ‘powers that be’ finding ways to enroll and support more students with disabilities. Darien and Susanna described the importance of people with disabilities mastering “an elevator speech” – emphasizing “to embrace not discard me.” Darien’s now ‘on the circuit’ making presentations to different audiences, including high school and middle school students. And also by stressing the economic bottom line because earning power increases, dependency decreases and enrollees increase their chances of being fulfilled and contributing citizens.