Students with Disabilities Find Support for College, Careers at OCC Event

Mar 13, 2017

ESM Teaching Assistant Kelly Modelewski (L) came to the Finding Your Way event with Kaushik Krishnan, who's interested in being a chef.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

The transition from high school seniors to college can be a significant adjustment for any student.  “Finding Your Way,” a conference for students with disabilities was held today at S-R-C Arena at Onondaga Community College with local colleges and service providers to help them attain their career aspirations and employment goals after high school. 

Syracuse University Parent Assistance Center Outreach Specialist Kristine O’Brien explains it’s an opportunity to show the various resources available.

Kristine O'Brien is a Syracuse University Parent Assistance Center Outreach Specialist.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

“What are the different services you can obtain if you’re going to college if you want some services on campus, whether it’s at Syracuse University or at OCC or at Le Moyne College.   (The event also showed) other opportunities for entry-level job positions, whether students might need assistance on the job.”

ESM High School student Kaushik has Autism and types-out answers before he verbalizes his thoughts.  We asked what career he’s interested in?

“(He types) …culinary, gluten-fee pastry chef.”

ESM Senior Mitch Russell-Jeffers is dreaming about a visual career.

“Maybe like, web comics and graphic design for games and stuff.”

That enthusiasm is something OCC Counselor and Instructor Daneen Brooks often witnesses.  She specializes in working with students with disabilities.

“They’re savvy with computers; they know what they want to do.  They just don’t know how to get there and they’re developing the skills as a young adult.”

Ryan Griswold (R) helps people find jobs in which they're interested through Onondaga Community Living. Griswold came to Finding Your Way with Heather Balch.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

Some students will choose to land a job whether they attend college or not.  Onondaga Community Living’s Employment Consultant Ryan Griswold can help them figure it out.

“(We) spend a good amount of time trying to figure out what the person wants to do, what their person’s strengths are.  Then we go out into the community; we help them kind of lock that job down.”

About 30 service organizations participated in the event today at OCC.