College Experience Program finds a new home

ALBANY – On the campus of Russell Sage College in Albany on Tuesday, the most valuable lesson learned for the day was: when one door closes, another door opens up.

College Experience Program finds new home

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By midday more than a dozen new students — and their families — were touring the New Scotland Avenue campus to get a lay of the land if you will. Those young adults are currently enrolled crosstown at the College of Saint Rose in the College Experience Program, which offers classes for individuals with learning disabilities, providing them internships, and other tools and skills that enable them to live independent lives.

“As an occupational therapist and a provost, it means the world to me,” said Russell Sage Provost Theresa Hand. “I can’t tell you enough how it is a dream come true to be a part of this.”

The partnership involving the Living Resources organization officially establishes Russell Sage as the new home for the campus-based residential program for young adults with disabilities.

“They want the same opportunities that everybody has,” asserts Elizabeth Martin, CEO of Living Resources. “They want to work. They want to live independently. They just need a little bit of intense learning in order to get there and that is what the College Experience Program does in partnership with the host college.”

Since 2005, Living Resources has graduated 200 students through the College Experience Program providing internships, work experiences, life skills and perhaps the most important thing of all, confidence.

When the College of Saint Rose announced late last year they would cease operations at the end of the current school year, the future of the CEP was uncertain.

“I’m very excited for this new opportunity,” said Rohan Pai, a current CSR student who took part in the Russell Sage orientation on Tuesday. “It’s a little nerve wracking but at the same time I’m very excited.”

“This is like they’re being treated as equals,” said Santosh Pai, Rohan’s father. “They go to the college experience, they can get a job, they can live independently, so it’s a big, big relief as parents for us.”

Sammie Morrissey, another CEP student making the move from Saint Rose says she doesn’t even want to think about where her life would be without the college experience.

“I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here and I’ve made so many friends,” Sammie said.

Doug Morrissey said the changes he’s seen in his daughter’s personality are incredible.

“She’s told me she never plans to move home again,” he said. “That’s not the kid I thought we had in our family and it’s all due to the program.”

The College Experience Program begins this coming summer.