SUU Disability Resource Center Receives Special Recognition

Published: December 05, 2022 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 2 minutes

Students at SUU's Disability Awareness WeekSouthern Utah University’s Susan Hunter was recently named provider of the year by the Utah Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Each year, the Golden Key Awards recognize those who have helped promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Hunter and SUU’s Disability Resource Center received the recognition after creating an internship program that helps students find stability and gain experience in the workforce. Inspired by Disability Resource Center Director, Carmen Alldredge, the internship program is available to students with disabilities who are between the ages of 17 and 21.

“I couldn’t stop thinking that a student with disabilities can do great things,” Alldredge said. “Our internships place the student in a position that gives them the experience of that specific work environment all semester long.”

The program goal is clear; to welcome and support students, and guide them along the way as they discover their passion in a job they are interested in. Students in the program have a mentor to help them figure out what they would like to do and who they want to become. Every student has weekly meetings with staff and student mentors at the Disability Resource Center to evaluate their academic progress, as well as the professional development that the students are experiencing within their respective internships.

"We are adamant about supporting the students so that they can learn to do something and learn to do it well,” Alldredge added. “We’ve seen lots of growth from the students, as well as advocacy and believing in themselves. There is a noticeable difference before and after they complete one of our internships.”

And the growth doesn’t stop at graduation.

“The internships are meant to help prepare students for what lies ahead, beyond walking under the bell tower at graduation,” Hunter explained. “These internships can encourage students to grow and learn in multiple ways to succeed in their future careers.”

Since the first grant, the Disability Resource Center has been awarded an extension and an additional $1.2 million in the last year. In addition to continuing to revise the grant to incorporate students 22 and older, Hunter and Alldredge are looking to include more opportunities for students. The Center started with 22 internships per semester and the number continues to grow.

Southern Utah University works daily to modify teaching and learning methods for students of all abilities. The SUU Disability Resource Center provides internships and other opportunities for hundreds of students and changed many lives along the way. Learn more about SUU’s Disability Resource Center.

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