3 months, 200 resources, and 12 chocolate chip cookies

At the time of writing this, I have been at Think College for 12 weeks. I have been helping the dissemination team catch up on lingering tasks, adopting new responsibilities (monthly newsletter), and freeing up Rebecca Lazo, the knowledge translation manager, to concentrate on bigger projects like the NCC’s new Project Advisory Committee.

We are also crossing things off the team’s “wish list:”

I did similar tasks in a prior position focusing on competitive integrated employment outcomes (Employment First) for people with ID. I was mostly distributing policy and systems change content. I didn’t meet with job seekers or employees with ID. It just wasn’t that kind of work.

At Think College, I get to engage with students, parents, advocates, and college program staff.

I sat in on an Emerging Advocates Group to hear a recent graduate, Peach Chinratanalab, talk with a dozen students about her advocacy work around transportation. Peach was also featured in the June newsletter (see monthly newsletter link above).

I met with two families to help them prepare for a webinar, Getting it Right AND Learning on the Fly: Prepared for College?. I attended and heard parents voice their concerns and share advice directly with other parents and family members. The webinar was so popular we scheduled a second.

I interviewed a student with ID for an internship. Actually, she interviewed me. To borrow a phrase from my mom, she was one tough cookie.

I’ve met with our partners at AUCD, Denise Rozell and Liz Weintraub. Liz is the senior advocacy specialist. She is not a student, but she is a trustworthy leader and powerful voice for student advocacy. In a few weeks, Liz and I will do a presentation to TPSID project directors and staff on the importance of advocacy and student resources available on ThinkCollege.Net.

And of course, the NCC team. I meet regularly with Cate Weir to prepare for the upcoming TPSID directors’ meeting. Clare Papay and I have talked about ways to use data in our social media marketing. I’ve worked closely with Kathy Becht on webinar planning and the affinity groups. (As a thank you for some help, Kathy sent me homemade cookies! No wonder I like this new job so much!)

You may not believe me but the best thing I have done has been tagging hundreds of website resources. It forced me to familiarize myself with Think College. Without the assignment it might have taken me years to bump into an article written in 2010 by Meg Grigal and Debra Hart. The publication, What’s the Point: A Reflection About the Purpose and Outcomes of College for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, sums it all up for me. The point of inclusive higher education is not just about obtaining a formal education. It is a pathway to a better quality of life, something everyone deserves.

About the post author: Sheila Johnson works with researchers, policy professionals, and educators to expand and improve inclusive higher education options for people with intellectual disability (ID). As the knowledge translation associate for Think College at the Institute for Community Inclusion, she develops and delivers content that meets the interests, needs, and comprehension levels of targeted audiences, whether they be researchers, politicians, or persons with ID. 


National Coordinating Center