The CHOICE (Creating Higher Education Opportunities to Increase College Experiences) Program at East Georgia State College recently had four graduates complete the program in May. The CHOICE Program is a two-year non-degree college inclusion program at East Georgia State College designed to provide students, who may traditionally be excluded from post-secondary education, the opportunity to participate in college classes and develop work-readiness employment skills. Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities may qualify for this program. The CHOICE Program for inclusive learning at EGSC has been designated by the U. S. Department of Education as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP).
The CHOICE program provides instruction in the following areas: Career Development and Employment, Academic Enrichment, Campus and Community Engagement, Self-Determination, and independent living. Staff with the program creates a unique and customized plan for achievement using a person-centered planning approach. Student participants audit traditional courses and complete specialized CHOICE courses and participate in job shadowing/internship experiences on and off campus to support career exploration and development of employment skills.
“The program began six years ago at EGSC and has continued to grow throughout the years. The program started with three students, one from Swainsboro and two from Toombs county, and more than 40 students have been through the program. The CHOICE students have fully integrated into the academic and campus community,” said Theresa Davis, director of the CHOICE Program.
EGSC staff and faculty strive to help students succeed by approaching education with a personal touch. The staff of the CHOICE Program for Inclusive Learning embraces this approach and strives to provide participants with a rewarding college experience filled with student activities and small classes with faculty who are dedicated to teaching and preparing them for whatever challenges they wish to pursue beyond the CHOICE experience.
The four CHOICE graduates, Martavious Carroll, Johnique Davis, Gwenique Rountree, and Antonio Smith, were recently interviewed by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities for their Summer edition of their Making a Difference Magazine. Each graduate spoke about why they decided to enter the program and the difference it has made in their life.
Johnique Davis of Warner Robins, Georgia, said his favorite part of college was experiencing living on his own for the first time.
“At first I was a little bit scared. I didn’t know what college was about at first. But I had really good mentors helping me,” said Johnique Davis. “It was exciting. It was awesome. It was an experience like I’d never seen before. I wish I could go back to East Georgia State College and do it all over again.”
Gwenique Rountree of Swainsboro, Georgia, said her favorite part of college was being around different people and growing into a better person. She always wanted to go to college to become a nurse so that she could help her great grandmother who is sick.
“I always wanted to take care of her when she was sick but I didn’t know what to actually do so that made me want to be a nurse so I can start helping more people,” said Rountree.
Martavious Trey Carroll from Vidalia, Georgia, and Antonio Lamont Smith of Summertown, Georgia, said college gave them the opportunity to attend classes as well as meet new people. Martavious really enjoyed his public speaking class because he was able to develop skills to speak in front of crowds. Antonio Smith focused more on his criminal justice class. The class allowed him to do a lot of debates and exciting activities.
Transitioning from college/school to work can be challenging for some individuals, however, these graduates have spent two years preparing for the next step in life. Martavious Carroll will begin a career in the food service department at Vidalia Middle School, as well as continue to assist Coach Dalley with the boys’ basketball team. Antonio Smith accepted a job with Walmart in Swainsboro where he hopes to secure a position in the technology department. Gwenique Rountree will complete her CNA clinicals and begin working in the healthcare field. Johnique Davis plans to enter the workforce in the field of nutrition and fitness in Warner Robins.
“The CHOICE program functions like a family,” said Theresa Davis. “We learn together, we grow together, we fall together, and we rise together. What a blessing the CHOICE staff and I receive when at the end of a two-year journey we see the emergence of a confident, self-determined young adult prepared to step onto the next stage of their life.”
In addition to the academic program, CHOICE students have access to the Jean Anderson Morgan Student Activities Center, recreation and exercise activities, sporting and entertainment events, and student clubs and organizations. Upon successful completion of the program requirements, participants will receive a CHOICE Certificate of Career Development and will also have the opportunity to qualify for a Georgia Work Readiness Certificate.
Students in the CHOICE Program attend college for the same reasons other students attend: to further their education, to develop lifelong friendships, to develop career opportunities, to gain independence, and to create life enriching experiences.
For additional information, contact Theresa R. Davis at (478) 289-2191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.