The Disabled Students Programs and Services office (DSP&S) at Pasadena City College has recently partnered with AbilityFirst, an organization that aids in assisting students with special needs in order to help disabled students on campus achieve their goals both in and out of the classroom.

This partnership known as the “College to Career Program” contracted with PCC this past May, but has been in the works since a year ago.

AbilityFirst decided to start the College to Career Program in May of 2015. They partnered with an organization in the San Fernando Valley called Tierra Del Sol which has a similar program called Nexus operating on four different campuses.

“We recognized the need for our participants, who expressed a desire to attend college and better their career paths, that we didn’t feel had the right support to do it,” said Keri Castaneda, the chief program officer of AbilityFirst.

According to Castaneda, AbilityFirst chose to start its program at PCC because it’s “one of the most prominent college campuses in Southern California in terms of size and prestige.”

AbilityFirst’s goals for PCC students are to meet all class requirements and a curriculum outside of the classroom that addresses nonacademic goals, such as developing interviewing skills, refining work resumes, and developing networking skills.

Castaneda already sees these goals being met just by the fact that “individuals who previously didn’t think that they could attend college are now registered and going to school.”

The DSP&S office at PCC is also familiar with AbilityFirst and is ready to help disabled students on campus flourish.

“AbilityFirst has been helping individuals with disabilities for a very long time,” said DSP&S counselor Rosemary Scott. “The partnering with PCC grew out of a desire to provide educational ‘coaches’ to increase success for PCC students in DSP&S with time management, advocacy, studying,and focusing towards gainful employment through appropriate college classes.”

The students in the program share Scott’s hopes for an increase in their educational success.

Current College to Career program student Heidi Garcia looks forward to becoming more independent in her classwork.
Students German “Ricky” Becerra and Jackson Sukys are also hoping to benefit from the program by learning how to type and how to break down assignments for time management.

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