Campus Works! recognizes students with disabilities

Matt Liasse and Matt Liasse

University and Penta Career Center students with special needs were recognized during a luncheon Wednesday, organized by the education program Campus Works!

Many students with disabilities were recognized by the program for lending a helping hand this semester on campus.

Campus Works! is a program that places high school students with special needs into work sites on campus. They are assigned to different University student mentors, according to member Amanda Dotson.

“It gives them the opportunity to learn job skills specific to their career interests and goals,” Dotson said. “It also gives us the experience we’ll need after we graduate.”

The “career exploration program” is a partnership between the two schools to help students in need of extra help with their studies, according to Dr. Jeanne Novak, the head of the program. She said it helps give “meaningful work experiences outside of the classroom.”

The luncheon was put together to show appreciation and recognition to students with disabilities. The mentors who have been working this semester and the different supervisors who have offered employment in their department were also recognized.  

“We came to celebrate, with students, their achievements this semester,” Novak said.

Amy Perry, a Penta administrator, presented each student with a certificate of achievement. Perry has been working nonstop behind the scenes with this program and has been recently nominated for a Teacher of the Year award at Penta, according to Novak.

Perry said it was a pleasure working with the program and with Novak for the past two years as she celebrated the students’ “growth in responsibility.”

Two of the students who were recognized at the event gave PowerPoint presentations on the progress they have made over the semester.

Sean Pierce, a Penta student, had the room laughing as he talked about his job in the Union. He would set up chairs and tables as well as straighten up rooms for conferences.

Mary Bigaila also shared a PowerPoint. With tears in her eyes, she said she was sad she would no longer be working with her mentors, Sam Wolfe and Kelly Detherage. Bigaila was accompanied by her parents and her supervisor Vicki Seifert, a library associate, who has been working with Bigaila this semester at the Jerome Library.

Bigaila served as the materials assistant in the Jerome Library where she cleaned computers, chairs and tables and made picture files.

She finished her presentation with hugs all around as she wiped away her tears. She said she was “emotional” about the banquet.