Thanks to a grant focused on encouraging professional development for individuals from diverse backgrounds in human services, three Goodwin College students will have a rare — and challenging — educational experience that can profoundly shape their careers and benefit the clients with whom they will work.
The source of this unique opportunity comes from a grant that the University of Connecticut University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCONN UCEDD) received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration For Community Living, Administration on Disability (AOD) Excellence in Developmental Disabilities National Training Initiative. The funds support the recruitment and retention of trainees from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to participate in a fellowship experience at the UCONN UCEDD in Farmington, Connecticut.
Among other requirements, eligible applicants must come from culturally, racially, or linguistic minority backgrounds; be in the last year of the Human Services bachelor’s degree program with a minimum GPA of 3.2; and plan to pursue a graduate degree. They must attend 90 hours of UCEDD training sessions and complete 80 hours of practicum work connecting their classroom learning with real-life experience in such settings as the Yale Study Child Center and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Pulmonary Clinic.
In addition, they are required to participate on a UCEDD research team to gain experience in data collection and problem solving; complete a community-based capstone project addressing the needs of persons with disabilities; and engage in mentorship with a UCEDD diversity mentor to assess their progress.
Dr. Mary Beth Bruder, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the A.J. Pappanikou Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Research, Education, and Service, learned of the grant opportunity and consulted with Diana J. LaRocco, Department Chair for Social and Educational Sciences at Goodwin College. Bruder and LaRocco’s professional association began in the 1980’s at the then Pediatric Research and Training Center.
The two colleagues agreed that there would likely be perfect candidates for the fellowships among Goodwin’s Human Services students. With a letter of support from LaRocco, Bruder applied for the government grant. After notification that the application was successful, LaRocco began working with Jack Matthews, Human Services Program Director, on conceptualizing how they would recruit Goodwin students and what the structure might look like.
Ultimately three Goodwin College Human Services students were identified as candidates, vetted, and accepted into the program. The grant will provide each of them a fellowship of 10 hours a week for 36 weeks. Fellows will receive a stipend for their participation. The recipients are:
Audrey Brown of Manchester is currently employed in the field of phlebotomy by Clinical Laboratory Partners. She is a 2015 graduate of Goodwin’s associate program in Human Services and is now continuing on with studies for her bachelor’s degree.
Ann Ferriera of Manchester received her associate degree in Human Services from Goodwin in 2015 and is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in the same program. She has been named to the President’s and Dean’s Lists multiple times. Her goal in Human Services is to work with adolescents and young adults.
Sancharae Kelley of Windsor became a certified nursing assistant in 2009 and is currently enrolled in the Human Service bachelor’s degree program at Goodwin. “Being selected for the UCONN UCEDD fellowship is an amazing opportunity, as I plan to further my education by exploring different options,” Kelley says. “I enjoy providing services to any individuals in need; that is why I decided to obtain a degree in human services. My mission to every new challenge that presents itself is not to be simply average but to be phenomenal!”
In addition to the individual benefits to Brown, Ferriera, and Kelley, LaRocco sees the fellowships as a major milestone for the College. “This project is unlike any other at Goodwin to date. Among other unique opportunities, the fellows will engage in research and learning with UCONN master’s and doctoral level students through the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND), a federally funded interdisciplinary leadership training program,” she explains. “The UCONN UCEDD has an excellent national reputation for its work in early childhood special education, and the fellows will meet with and learn from national experts in the field.”
Learn more about the Human Services degree programs at Goodwin College.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.