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 Damion, a second-year IPSE student studying at the U of C. Below is an interview in which he speaks to his university experience, work-life, and goals for the future. 

My name is Damion, and I’m really good at Golf and solving the Rubik’s Cube. I talk about sports a lot. I met Johnny Gaudreau at the golf course where I work.  He signed my jersey, and laughed a lot. He’s very short (shorter than me), but he’s a good player with a lot of speed. He doesn’t fight or show off. I can put these things to use when I play ball hockey in the Special Olympics.

Now that I’m in university, I see that people are more grown-up, and they understand things better. These days, I’m a lot better with notes. I use a Learning Journal. I put things in it that are important – and things I need to talk about.

One of my favorite courses so far has been Religion. I’m Catholic, but I believe in a lot of different religions. I think it’s cool that they think about things in another way. It’s very interesting. If they see God a different way, maybe it is because of their culture or how they grew up. I wouldn’t be too offended if people don’t believe.

The hardest course I’ve taken was Archeology. I had to look up stuff on different bones, and some had the same name. You never find them looking like they do in the textbooks. I wish I was better at learning Italian. I’m using the Duolingo App and another one for translation on my phone. One day, I would like to get into Sports Medicine – as a job or something else. I would like to be a Trainer for amateur athletes. I used to be an Equipment Manager back in high school.

At school, I get help when I need it. Other students will show me where to go when I can’t find my way. Professors will sometimes set up a test for me. My Professor Ramona, is awesome. I also helped one of the new students find his way around. One day, someone had a map open, so I helped them. I also share my notes on Google Classroom, so other people can use them. When I was playing basketball, I helped people to learn how to jump and put their hands up (for defense) by watching me. I have a lot of knowledge – not just in sports, but in other ways. I’m also a good researcher, and I use the tools that are given to me by others.

My Facilitator, Bethany, likes the same music as me. And she does NOT cheer for the Oilers. She gives me a lot of notes on Google Classroom, which means others can use them too. Sometimes I send Bethany news articles I think she would like for school.

I’m part of the ‘Exercise is Medicine’ Club, where I learn about exercises that would be used in rehab or fitness. I’m also on their Facebook page, so I get to read up on everything they are up to.

One of my favorite projects so far has been a trip to Mac Hall, where we did an exercise on non-verbal communication. We looked at people like Anthropologists do – by observing certain things about them.

If you’re interested in going to university, I would tell you to take advantage of the help you can get in IPSE. Go get it.  Not many universities have this kind of thing. Make a lot of friends, so you have people to do things with. Join some clubs too and if you want to study Economics at University of CA – Merced go for it!

“One word I would use to describe Damion is ‘initiative’. Damion is responsible for his own learning, and this sets him apart. He works through it, and if he can’t figure it out, he finds a way. He’s a great critical thinker, who always considers other perspectives.  I always learn from him.”– Bethany, IPSE Educational Facilitator