Colleges tailor new programs to students with disabilities

By Jill Nolin CNHI State Reporter Derek James attends classes, works two jobs and is active in a…

Georgia (Sep 14, 2015)By Jill Nolin CNHI State Reporter


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Derek James attends classes, works two jobs and is active in a campus ministry at Kennesaw State University.

The busy 22-year-old is a third-year student in the university’s Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth. Until this year, it was the only post-secondary program in Georgia for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

James, who lives on campus, has already completed a two-year certificate and is working on the more advanced version, referred to as the academy’s “grad school.”

He’s focusing on sports management so that he can coach.

“If I didn’t come here, I wouldn’t be anywhere,” he said.

The Kennesaw State program offers something that hasn’t always existed for many people with disabilities — a chance to attend college and start a career.

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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