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The Trials and Tribulations of Talli Wyler

and the verdict is….. SUCCESS!

by Sharon Heller, Program Director CLE Denver

Talli started her post-secondary journey with CLE Denver in August of 2013.

Trials and tribulations of Talli at CLE DenverFresh 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.


The first semester at the Community College of Denver was a little painful. Talli’s tutors seemed to be working harder than she was, and arriving to tutoring on time and prepared was not an easy task. Talli discovered the freedom of choice in terms of showing up for classes and more than once skipped out on her CLE appointments. Talli experimented with out of budget shopping sprees and was known to occasionally eat chips for breakfast, lunch and, yes, even chips for dinner. These were some challenging times for Talli, her parents, and the CLE staff. Talli wasn’t sure if CLE was working with her or against her. Talli’s advisor emphasized again and again, “Talli, we are truly on your side,” but truth be told, Talli wasn’t so sure.

But then…

A turning point for Talli was when she hesitantly agreed to work to earn a journalism certificate. The CLE team encouraged Talli to strive to earn this certificate because writing was an academic area where Talli showed real potential, and also admittedly, because this certificate was a way around the dreaded college math requirement. Talli had shared with CLE staff about wanting to be a movie critic and this certificate seemed like a great opportunity to build her skill set.

In the journalism certificate program, Talli tentatively began to develop herself as a college student. With support from the CLE team (and her parents) Talli learned the value of her tutors’ expertise. She became diligent in attending every session and even showed up on time, however early her sessions were scheduled. Over time, Talli gained more confidence in her writing and began to demonstrate her talent without as much effort on the tutor’s part.

Stay steady

And yes, Talli still had her ups and downs. At times the stress of classes and deadlines, with all of the other areas of responsibilities of day-to-day life, felt like just too much. Some days Talli still felt like she didn’t want to grow up. But regardless of the obstacles Talli stayed steady and never gave up. Talli even learned how to show up for Study Hall and in her final semester started utilizing that time to complete her assignments. Talli gained respect for her tutors and CLE staff. She built deeper relationships with peers and staff, and valued the feedback and support her mentor provided.

Although Talli wasn’t perfect, with every small step back there were many more steps forward. Talli learned how to make mistakes and pick up the pieces and move on. She learned how to receive feedback without always being defensive. Talli started to discover a sense of her self, and demonstrated greater confidence and leadership. Talli started to speak up about what mattered to her, about how she felt about things, and started to take the reins of her own life. Talli started to care for and be proactive in her academics and independent living skills, and even began taking action to improve her health and fitness. She started working out rigorously and eating more consciously. She started managing her outside appointments and began communicating more effectively and responsibly. Talli started to gain maturity and a sense of ownership and accountability for different areas of her life.

Through these steps Talli’s repertoire of independence started to grow, as did her internal motivation and measures of her own success. Who would have thought that embracing growing up would mean not eating chips for dinner? How does one indicate and document such enormous growth and personal development? This kind of growth and success is not always measurable, but it is undeniable and tangible.

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Talli speak about her growth to some CLE visitors. Talli shared about her history from when she was 12 years old forward and how she has grown and changed over the years. To hear her story and her growth from her perspective was phenomenal. There is no denying the enormity of Talli’s personal growth and development. Has she had a lot of support? Yes, indeed. Has she benefited greatly? Yes, indeed. Is she well on her way to living a successful independent life? Yes, indeed. Does she have further to go? Yes, indeed. And there’s no doubt that Talli is going forward.

Those of us at CLE Denver are very proud of you, Talli. We look at you and see a beautiful, smart, capable young woman. We look at you and want to shout the word “SUCCESS!”

Our words of encouragement to you are “Just Keep Going and Never Give Up!”

Newsletter Articles – July 2016

Carly at CLE Austin

Prior 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.

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.

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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.