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Building Confidence Leads to Success

(and Making Friends Along the Way Helps!)

By Carlota Ornelas, Student at CLE Austin

Carly at CLE AustinPrior to starting CLE in August 2015, I was living with my mother in Missouri and was enrolled in a local community college part time. My grades fluctuated between A’s, B’s, and C’s and I had a difficult time prioritizing schoolwork and completing my assignments in general. When doing schoolwork, I never thought it would be good enough and often stressed myself out by overthinking what needed to be done. While I had classmates I was friendly with, there were very few people I could actually call a friend and I spent most of my free time at home alone. I was afraid to stand up for myself.

Now, I have been part of CLE for almost one year and my life has changed entirely. I am a much more confident person in all aspects of my life. In my classes at Austin Community College, I have completed all of my assignments and turned them in on time and have managed to not get behind at all with schoolwork. I also have passed every single class with an A. I have a 4.0 GPA! The staff here have reassured me that I am capable and smart and have helped me not overthink things so much. This summer, I began working a full-time job at a childcare center and have learned to prioritize education and work duties.

Before I moved to Texas, I would never be caught around a group of more than three people. I would feel anxious and overwhelmed and it would not be a good interaction. Because I have built my confidence and learned to be more comfortable with who I am, I can now regularly be seen interacting with as many as ten or more people at a time. The other students here can relate to what it feels like to be anxious around a big group of people and they make life stressors feel more normal and relatable. I am now not afraid to be myself—which makes it easier to make friends. Friendships here kind of just clicked.

Thanks to CLE, I have the tools to continue to be successful now and in the future. I feel like I have found my voice and will continue to use it.

Newsletter Articles – July 2016

Zach Sweet success at CLE Rockville

Zach Sweet came to CLE Rockville nearly three years ago, having tried some college classes after his high school graduation and realizing that he needed more support. His goal when entering our program was to finish his AA degree and find work in the IT field. Now that he’s about to leave CLE, he has accomplished all this and more.

Last month he walked across the stage at Montgomery College and received his AA in Applied Science. Zach is currently preparing to participate in the CLE summer excursion to Great Britain and when he returns he will be joining Project SEARCH, an internship program that provides training to young adults with a variety of disabilities. Zach will have the opportunity to intern at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Smithsonian Museums and the Rockville, Maryland city government, gaining experience in his chosen field. We sat down with Zach recently and asked him to reflect on his time in Rockville.

Ryan at CLE Fort Lauderdale - overcoming challenges with learning differences

Ryan Collins started with CLE during the summer of 2015 at Denver’s pre-college Summer Exploration Program and started as a CLE full program student in August 2016. Ryan has worked hard to overcome some of his challenges. He worked on learning how to handle his sensory integration issues, especially when it comes to noise. Ryan has learned to take short breaks when needed or refocusing on a short task. Ryan has also learned to follow a task list to help him stay focused and to get his work completed in a timely fashion.

Talli at CLE Denver

Fresh out of boarding school, Talli was eager to start her life as an independent young adult. She was excited and eager to have her own apartment, establish new friendships, and establish her young adult life in a new and exciting city. While Talli was thrilled to be more independent, however she was not so eager to do her homework, clean her new apartment, navigate the challenges of a roommate relationship, show up for morning tutoring sessions, and have to live within a monetary budget.

As much as Talli wanted the freedoms of adult life she was honestly scared that there were many ways that she did not want to grow up. Motivation was probably Talli’s biggest challenge the first years at CLE, because while she was socially motivated, not everything else sparked her interest and growing up was not an easy task.

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This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.