Growing ranks

Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth 2012 graduates

In a commencement season full of firsts, friends, family and supporters of Kennesaw State…

Georgia (May 15, 2012)

In a commencement season full of firsts, friends, family and supporters of Kennesaw State University’s Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth celebrated a second – the graduation of its second cohort of students with intellectual disabilities.

“I can’t tell you how proud we are of our six fabulous graduates,” academy director Harry Stern said. “They have exceeded everyone’s expectations, including their own.”

The academy offers a unique two-year certificate program designed to provide students with intellectual disabilities a college experience through the auditing of college-level courses. The academy is part of the WellStar College of Health and Human Services.

“You’ve enriched us as a college and as a university,” WellStar Dean of Health and Human Services Richard Sowell told the graduates. “I want to thank you for giving our other students the opportunity to see how much everyone can contribute to campus life.”

Just as President Daniel S. Papp conferred Kennesaw State’s first doctorates in business administration and nursing during May commencement ceremonies, he also bestowed certificates of achievement upon the academy graduates.

“This is truly a momentous occasion for KSU,” Papp told the graduates. “And, I’m going to tell you the same thing I’ve told all the other graduates this spring, commencement is a beginning, not an ending.”

Among the newest academy alumni are a graduate who wants to work around airplanes, and an aspiring coach, equipment manager for a professional sports team, a volunteer and Publix cashier, a businessman and theatre box office employee.

“My advice for other students with disabilities is to not let your disability get in the way of your dreams,” said Anna – Bess – Winebarger, the aspiring theatre box office worker.

While all of the graduates said they enjoyed making new friends on campus, there was something Losha Tumban liked equally as well.

“My favorite thing was the juicy fried chicken at The Commons,” he said. “My goal is to travel for business and have a family.”

-- By Jennifer Hafer


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit