ROCK SPRINGS — Students from Sweetwater County learned college and career readiness skills this summer in a program facilitated by the University of Wyoming’s College of Health Sciences Wyoming Institute for Disabilities.

ACCESS Employment, a WIND program providing pre-employment transition services, provided an educational experience that included four sessions using Zoom videoconferencing technology and an on-campus day at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs.

Students ages 14-21 learned workplace readiness skills, effective resume building and how to present themselves professionally, along with collaboration techniques and how to plan for and succeed in college.

Janean Forsyth Lefevre, program manager, and Greg Ronco, project coordinator, developed the program and led the educational sessions in conjunction with collaborative partners at WWCC and Kyla Maestas, a developmental disabilities service provider in Rock Springs. WWCC staff, led by Vice President for Student Services Philip Parnell, treated the students to a personalized campus tour and led presentations on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, disability support, wellness services and financial aid.

Maestas facilitated Zoom sessions for a group of students at the White Mountain Library and assisted in communicating with the participants. Their support was instrumental in providing a space for the students to connect with one another, build relationships and ask questions.

The on-campus day allowed students to connect individually and learn more about college preparation. They started the day with a team-building activity, collaborating on various puzzles in a Harry Potter-themed escape room. Not only did they escape, but they also finished early and described the teamwork skills they used well and which ones they could practice. Later in the day, students took part in a work-based learning experience at the campus bookstore, where they helped the manager and staff organize the store for the coming semester.

Parents also attended the on-campus day. They participated in sessions on college readiness and supporting self-advocacy, and discussed the individual needs of their students in order to be successful in college.

According to a press release, both students and parents say the activities were helpful. One parent explained to organizers that, before the program, she was not sure that college would be a possibility for her son. However, after seeing his progress and learning about options for support, she feels that success in college may be attainable for her child.

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