Wolverines Elevated Graduates Inaugural Cohort

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The inaugural 2024 cohort of Utah Valley University Wolverines Elevated graduates. (Photo courtesy of Utah Valley University)

Utah Valley University (UVU) marked a milestone in educational inclusivity with the commencement of the first cohort from Wolverines Elevated, a pioneering program designed for students with intellectual disabilities.

A $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education helped launch this unique pathway to higher education that was previously inaccessible to this group of people.

Wolverines Elevated offers a three-year certificate in Integrated College and Community Studies that focuses on key areas such as self-determination, independent living, and career development. Participants also have the option to pursue a second certificate from any program offered at UVU, broadening their academic and professional horizons.

Additionally, they are able to join student clubs, engage in campus activities and events, and utilize all of the enriching experiences UVU has to offer.

The program’s holistic approach is evident in its comprehensive support system. Each student is paired with a peer mentor who assists in various aspects of college life, from time management and course navigation to social integration and career planning. This mentorship is pivotal, not only for academic success but also for fostering confidence and lifelong skills essential for future endeavors.

Anna Sisson, the program manager, highlighted the transformative impact of Wolverines Elevated in a public statement. “It is very exciting to see how their hard work and dedication has led them to accomplishing something they had only dreamed about. Coming to college has helped students gain confidence and lifelong skills that will help them in their career as well as any of their life pursuits.”

The certificate is overseen by Jane Carlson, PhD, the director of the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism, who emphasized the program’s foundational belief. “When students with intellectual disability are provided with opportunity and high expectations, they can and do succeed in college.”

Graduation was celebrated during an event in May that recognized the academic achievement of those enrolled, and provided a testament to the program’s success in creating inclusive educational opportunities.

Wolverines Elevated stands as a beacon of progress, demonstrating that with the right support and opportunities, all students can achieve their college dreams. The program plans to continue paving the way for a more inclusive academic world, where every student has the chance to succeed and thrive.