We spoke to Andrew in April of 2020 as he completed his first year at St. Lawrence College in the Community Integration Through Cooperative Education (CICE) program. This is a truly unique two year certificate program designed for adults with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, acquired brain injuries or other significant learning challenges who wish to further their education/vocational training in a community college setting. Students are given
the opportunity to complete an individualized program of study that includes field placement experiences. During Andrew's coop he worked as a mechanic's assistant at a local automotive repair shop.
We were curious to learn more about Andrew's experience and what advice he might have for other youth preparing for college or work. Here is what Andrew had to say:
Question: how are you finding the CICE program?
Great! They give you the help you need and good tutoring. They help you figure it out and help you to do it yourself. They don’t give you all the answers. It’s like independent learning. They help you so you can figure it out yourself.
Question: what kind of things are you learning?
They teach you that there are personal skills like soft skills and also hard skills. The soft skills you need for every job, the hard skills are different for each job.
Question: what kind of work do you want to do when you graduate?
I wanted to do carpentry but then I did a coop at a garage and now I want to be a mechanic. I liked it a lot. I worked as a mechanic's assistant painting cars and once I helped disassemble a motor. I like working with my hands.
Question: what do you like about working with your hands?
I don’t know. I guess you feel like you actually accomplish something instead of sitting on a computer wasting your life. In the garage you can actually build stuff - it's cool.
Question: what is helping you the most to succeed at school?
For me it is determination. You put your mind to it you can do anything. You have to try new things.
Question: what advice would you give another young person with a disability leaving school and trying to find work or go to college?
Don’t give up, always try to succeed and if you can’t quite get there try to fix it and try to interact with other people. Sometimes when you interact with other people they give you advice and these things are helpful. People can give you new ideas and ways to move forward.
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