One Family’s Story About Transition and Success
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One Family’s Story About Transition and Success

The following is 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 program’s website.

By Scott Allen, Psy.D.

John volunteering CLE Austin transitionUpon hearing that the theme for July’s newsletter would be student success stories, John B. was a student who immediately came to my mind. In the time I have worked in clinical and educational settings, few if any students have shown the drive and perseverance that John has displayed. John began his program at CLE Austin and at Austin Community College in August of 2011 and after 3 years of hard work, he will begin working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture at Texas Tech University in August 2014. I could not be more proud of John and his consistent effort in all areas of school and in his CLE program.

I approached John and his mother about sharing their experiences with us and they were happy and honored to share their story. Their responses to my inquiries are below and truly show the closeness and level of communication between them. Their responses also truly show the building blocks that are necessary to overcome one’s personal obstacles and reach success in college. On behalf of the CLE staff and students in Austin, I would like to tell John that he will be missed and more importantly wish him the best of luck in this next phase of his development.

Talking with John

John finding success at CLE Austin

What were your goals when you entered college and CLE?

“I wanted to get a Master’s degree in engineering and I wanted to be more social and less of a loner.”

Has everything gone as expected? Why or why not?

“Not really- I wanted to get some CAD certificates but no, it’s better. I will be going to a 4-year college. I initially was resistant to the program; that was until I realized that my parents set me up for success. If that didn’t happen, I don’t know where I would be.”


How has CLE helped you through college so far?

“CLE staff has helped me reinforce good study habits and keep on the right path. They have also helped to keep me focused.”

How have your parents helped you through college so far?

“Well they’ve certainly helped pay for things but they’ve also helped by encouraging me to do what I want. They have been ok with me doing what I want to do.”

What has been the most difficult part of college so far?

“Allowing myself to go along with what professors say and going in with an open mind.”

How have you grown during your time at CLE?

“I now have an open mind- I have learned to embrace experiences and the knowledge of my instructors. I can manage my time better and get more accomplished. I have learned to make lists of priorities. I am also more willing to open up to new people.”

What advice would you give to incoming students?

“Come in with an open mind. You are freer than you think you are. If someone makes fun of you, who cares what they think?”

What are your next steps and long-term goals?

“I will transfer to Texas Tech and work toward my BA in Landscape Architecture. Hopefully I can get a Master’s Degree and/or Doctorate.”

Talking with John’s mother, Kelly

John B pic in picWhat were your goals for John when he entered the program?

“I wanted to see him be successful in attaining life goals that he had set for himself and I wanted to see him gain the level of independence necessary to reach them.”

Has everything gone as expected? Why or why not?

“It has gone better than expected. Some of the transitions were smooth; he learned independent living skills quickly. Socialization goals came slower. He currently handles himself well and interacts well. Before he started at CLE, he used to look downward; he now looks at me and other people in the eyes. He is more self-confident and holds his head up. When we go out to eat, he converses with wait staff. His demeanor has completely changed and he realizes what we knew all along… that he is a precious and worthwhile individual.”

How has CLE helped John through college so far?

“It has provided John with a safe environment to practice skills. John has had the opportunity to gain new skills in a supportive environment. I was so glad that John had the experience of going to Spain, where he had the chance to work as a ‘servant leader.’ CLE has also provided John with a venue to put skills into practice.”

How have you and the rest of the family helped John through college so far?

“We have been able to act as a ‘sounding board’ when John has social struggles; we help him view these situations from different perspectives. We help him think about different options and opportunities. We support him in making decisions that he wants to make. We encourage him and let him know how much we appreciate him and we acknowledge his growth.”

What has been the most difficult part of college for John and your family so far?

“John has always had processing speed and organizational challenges. He also often shows perfectionism and we have been trying to teach him to do it, accomplish it, and move on. He has struggled with learning that you don’t have to live, eat, and breathe school.”

What advice would you give to the parents of incoming students?

“Relax and let the process unfold. Don’t rush it along. Like in John’s plants, growing and maturation takes time.”

What do you view as John’s long-term goals?

“I would like to see John accomplish whatever goals he sets for himself and give it his all. I want him to find a vision and a mission for himself.”

Is there anyone you would like to thank in this article?

“Thank you for taking an interest in helping John, formulating a game plan, and acting as an advocate and mentor for him. You gave feedback and opened the door for him to map everything out. He appreciates you a lot and has enjoyed bonding with you. Brett [John’s Career Development Instructor] helped John a lot with his college applications. John appreciates all of the staff at CLE and he has really learned to work with all types of people.”

July 2014 Newsletter

Stephanie Martin, President CLE

As the President of CLE, I began reflecting back to this time last year and recall the excitement of our new student class, the pride of seeing students move forward ready to take on the world without our supports, and the camaraderie of our teams continuing to strengthen across the organization. The results, just a short year later, exceeded my expectations and again, the bar was raised for what we can accomplish as an organization.


We are thrilled to announce that the Educational Foundation for Independence (EFFI) is now affiliated with Amazon Smile. For those of you who are not familiar with EFFI, it is a non-profit foundation dedicated to raising money to assist individuals with disabilities in accessing educational opportunities unique to their needs. EFFI’s mission is to is to provide scholarships in the form of tuition assistance for students to attend a number of K-12 private schools and college support programs for alternative learners, and early intervention services for young children with Autism.

Alexa success at CLE Costa Mesa

My name is Alexa and I am studying Early Childhood Education. I love working with children and I have always been good with them. I recently completed 4 successful semesters at Orange Coast Community College and now, I am a few classes away from earning my certificate and my Associates Degree. With my certificate, I hope to become a Teacher’s Aide. Eventually, I would like to go back to school to become a teacher.

Chase's Graduation - CLE Fort Lauderdale

Chase came to CLE Davie in August 2012 ready to begin his college studies. From his first class through his last, he tackled every course diligently and persevered to keep his grades high. He took one day at a time and worked extremely hard to meet his obligations on time. Because he learned to organize himself, Chase graduated on the Deans List with a GPA of 3.54!

Tom is Rockin' Out - CLE Washington D.C.

Ever since looking at colleges during his sophomore year in high school, Tom wanted to go to college away from home. Initially, he wanted to attend a school in Vermont, but Tom’s family suggested looking at College Living Experience to assist him in his academic and independent living skills development.

The post One Family’s Story About Transition and Success appeared first on College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future.