Every student at Kennesaw State University is filled with promise and potential. As we seek innovative ways to serve our students, new partnerships connect them to the resources needed to discover their own paths to success. To help develop valuable workplace skills, the College of Professional Education (CPE) now offers three certificate courses to students at the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth:
- Culinary Foundations
- Customer Service and Professionalism
- Microsoft Office
Celebrating its 10th year at KSU, the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth offers a fully-inclusive post-secondary college education and experience to students with different intellectual or developmental abilities. The program includes enrollment as non-degree seeking audit students in university courses, along with social integration, career exploration, and training. Completion of the Academy results in a certificate in one of two main areas: Academic, Social, and Career Enrichment and Advanced Leadership and Career Development. If a student stays for four years, both KSU certificates may be completed.
“Our partnership with CPE will allow us to hone in on the career development piece of our program,” said Neil Duchac, executive director of the Academy for Inclusive learning and Social Growth. “Gaining work knowledge builds self-efficacy and enhances the potential that our students already have. We want to see all of our students leave the program and be contributing members of society, and these certificates will benefit their post-KSU employment.”
The program is already paving the way for success on the job. “The real beauty of this partnership is that it will allow our students to put what they are learning into practice,” Duchac said. “Students will go straight from class into a 10-hour internship, where they will directly apply these new skills.”
Kaelan Knowles, a fourth-year student in the Academy, is one of 45 students who are taking certificate courses offered through the partnership between the Academy and CPE. After just two sessions of Culinary Foundations, he is excited about his time in the kitchen. “I want to learn to make my own meals and better understand the food groups,” Knowles said. “Chef Gerstenecker is a helpful instructor and I understand him well.”
Since 2009, 91 students have graduated from the Academy and now serve their communities through a variety of jobs, including roles at Chick-Fil-A, the kitchen department at UGA, Atlanta-area pools, and even advocacy at the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. Others have continued their education and earned associate degrees.
As Knowles looks forward to his own graduation, he has big plans for his future. “I want to come back to Kennesaw State, possibly to learn how to teach English to people in South Korea and Japan,” Knowles said. “My favorite classes are Japanese 1001 and 1002. When I was working at an internship at the Office of Diversity, I found that I enjoy working with people. I’m excited to take a language class to learn grammar so that I can teach it to others.”
Whatever their goals, students at the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth now have new opportunities to find their wings at Kennesaw State University.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be on this diverse campus,” Knowles said. “I have enjoyed the experience of taking classes and meeting people from other countries.”