by LORA RAINES
Representatives from East Georgia State College’s Creating Higher Education Opportunities to Increase College Experiences (CHOICE) Program attended the 3rd Annual Inclusive Southeastern Postsecondary Education Conference and Capacity Building Institute sponsored by the Southeastern Postsecondary Education Alliance (SEPSEA) at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. June 26-27, 2017. Student Brea Heard of Atlanta, graduates Kasey Hayes of Lyons and Daizah Kelly of Garfield, and Program Director Theresa R. Davis, Ed.S., attended sessions designed to encourage best practices in college programs for students with disabilities.
In addition to two days attending informative sessions, the group toured the Vanderbilt campus and explored downtown Nashville and its historical sites. A horse carriage tour of downtown Nashville took them to Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, and Bridgestone Arena, home of The Country Music Association (CMA) Awards. The group spotted singer Taylor Swift on her Encore Hotel balcony. She greeted them as they serenaded her with her own songs. Another highlight was crossing the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge, a local favorite and tourist attraction.
Among sessions the group attended were “Finding Ourselves: Our College Story,” “Living Independently from Our Perspective,” “Developing an Engaging and Sustainable Mentoring Program,” “Creativity and the Arts as a Tool for Integrative Post-Secondary Classrooms,” “Self-Awareness as a Critical Step toward Self-Determination,” “Our College Experience: Student Perspectives on Inclusive Postsecondary Education,” and “Every Voice Counts.” The conference provides educators with professional development and develops self-awareness and self-advocacy skills in students.
SEPSEA promotes postsecondary education for students with disabilities throughout the Southeast. CHOICE is a two-year inclusive postsecondary certificate program for students with disabilities. CHOICE has been designated a Comprehensive Transition Program by the U.S. Department of Education.