The Inclusive-Posted Secondary Education (IPSE) and Employment Program, at the University of Calgary and St. Mary’s University, is a campus service that provides educational and workplace opportunities to diverse learners. Students access an authentic University experience through attendance to classes, participating in campus clubs, accessing student services, and participating in campus events. Understanding around classroom materials is reinforced with a focus on soft-skill competencies linking to Workforce 2020 Strategies, which include critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, global citizenship, and personal growth. The hard-work students put into their IPSE experience is represented by their self-determination, and growth toward increased independence.
IPSE aims to create resilient self-advocates who are eager to embrace new challenges as they move forward into their career adventures. We are proud to introduce Darius, a third-year IPSE student studying at the U of C. Below is an interview in which he speaks to his university experience, leadership opportunities, and goals for the future.
I had a lot of friends in high school, but I also made bad decisions. In university, I’ve actually found friends that care about me and my success. I feel safer here, even though I see different people all the time. I find people are more grown-up. IPSE supports people that have struggles sometimes, and sometimes we all need support.
My Facilitator helps me to get ready for exams using Flashcards, and we review things together. My professors teach me a lot of new information. My parents also help to keep me on track. When I need to talk, the IPSE staff always listen. I think the best thing about my main Facilitator, Andrew, is his dedication to helping others. I also like his enthusiasm, and his willingness to talk to me. Even though I make the wrong choices sometimes, he helps get me back on track.
My favorite class so far has been History of WWII. It helped me to see how other people changed the world, by supporting each other. I found my Sociology class hard. It dealt with racism and other things I’ve been through.
One of the best parts of my year has been making new friends at the SOTA conference in Syracuse. I got to meet people that are more independent than me, and I want to be like them. I’m getting better at meeting people here too. I look for cues that they are interested in a conversation, and then I usually ask a question like, “What are you taking?” When I’m going somewhere, I like to say hello to people.
Being able to help people is the best part about my life. If someone has problems with their homework, they can talk to me. People say I’m open and perceptive, I was also a Peer Mentor to another student when he was new. I talked to him about things, and showed him where to go for his classes. I really like to help people. It makes me feel good.
The world outside is a big place, but I’m also exposed to so much at University. Follow your dreams. Find what you like. As long as you do that, you’ll be fine.
“Darius’ experience has been one of growth. He’s taken on the role of an advocate and leader this year, which is amazing to see. I am able to challenge him more and more within his coursework – he’s genuinely a sponge when it comes to learning. He’s always eager to challenge himself and to learn about new things. He asks a lot of questions. His desire to know the “why” is one of the best things about him.”
– Andrew, IPSE Educational Facilitator