College Steps/NOVA Annandale & Loudoun Information Night

Dear Friends and Families,

On behalf of College Steps and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), we’re delighted to inform you that we will be holding an information night for the College Steps program on Thursday, February 9th 2017 at 5:30 pm at NOVA Annandale's Campus in the Brault Building Room 321. College Steps is a non-profit organization that partners with NOVA to provide college support for individuals living with social or learning challenges (e.g., learning disabilities, autism, developmental, or intellectual disabilities).

Come learn about the exciting new opportunities that College Steps and NOVA will be offering at the NOVA Loudoun and Annandale campuses in the coming months. We recognize that for many students, the transition between high school and college is challenging and can often feel intimidating. Therefore, College Steps offers both (1) a transition to college program for high school seniors as well as (2) an individualized support program for college students at NOVA Loudoun and NOVA Annandale.

What: College Steps / NOVA Annandale & Loudoun Information Night

When: Thursday, February 9th 2017 at 5:30 pm - 7pm

Where: NOVA Annandale's Campus in the Brault Building Room 321

Parking: Parking is free for this event in the Brault Building's Parking lot (visitor parking passes will be provided at check-in)

The info night is a free event; however, we encourage everyone to register for the event by the COB on Friday, February 3rd. If you are unable to attend, please help us spread the word by sharing this invitation with a friend or colleague. Light refreshments will be served. If you have any questions about the event, please contact Lauren Merritt at or 802-363-2785.

We look forward to seeing you at the event!

College Steps

OPEN HOUSE: NOVA Loudoun and NOVA Annandale 12/7/2016

We are excited to announce the continued partnership between College Steps and Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA’s) Annandale and Loudoun campuses for fall 2017. 


December 7, 2016 at 5:30 pm

@ NOVA Loudoun's Campus in the LC Building in Room 311


If you missed our December 7th Open House, we will be holding a second Open House in February 2017. College Steps also welcomes the opportunity to provide you with a private tour of our partnerships at the NOVA Loudoun and Annandale campuses. 

Coursework and Employment Experiences Come Together

Graduating College Steps at SVC student, Stephanie, has spent two years taking classes and working toward an employment goal to work in the field of early care and education. This semester, she engaged in a "Chemistry of Cooking" course, as it connected so well her academic and employment interests. Here is her summary for a final project for the semester:

  • Your major: College Steps- this will apply to my work experience.
  • Describe how you plan to apply this course to your work experience: I could use the skills I learned in this class to have the children at the daycare cook/make cookies, brownies, or the ice cream. (As long as my boss is there.)

  • What the project would be: I would make the ice cream with them because it was the easiest one to make out of the recipes.

  • What would be done: If I were to do this project with the kids I would have them make the pizza or the ice cream. I would begin by asking them what they think the salt and sugar does to the ice cream. After they answer, I would then show them videos (like the ones we watched) to see if their answers changed. I would finally explain to them the how salt and sugar affect the ice cream.

Commencement Remarks at SVC

The following remarks were recently shared by provost Jay White at the 89th Commencement of Southern Vermont College in Bennington, VT.

"For the second year in a row, we are pleased to award certificates of higher education to graduates of our College Steps program, which started here at SVC in 2013. The students receiving certificates today had to meet a number of criteria set by the regional College Steps organization within a two-year time frame.

These criteria include completing specific academic, vocational independent living and campus life requirements, including four semesters of coursework (which may be transferred to further their college studies), and completion of an internship. These students have participated in many campus activities including the Sarnoff Speech Contest, Choral Ensemble, Vermont Reads events, Mountaineer Events Board, The Looking Glass, Anime Club, Homecoming, fundraisers to benefit our local food pantries, bake sales to benefit local child care centers … and more.

I would like to echo the sentiment from the students who mentor the College Steps students and say that this is a wonderful experience for both parties: as one student mentor said, “Not only do I feel I am helping the College Steps students grow, they are helping me grow.”"

Art Student Graduating College Steps at SVC

College Steps student, Lorraine, did an excellent job with the presentation of her art work last night. After taking many art classes at SVC, Lorraine is graduating this weekend and moving into a work experience at the Cake Gallery with Meike Thomas. Congratulations, Lorraine!

College Steps at Norwalk Community College

Please visit this link for a nice piece done on College Steps program at Norwalk Community College. A special thanks to Tim, Rachael and Lauren for helping to facilitate this. A wonderful representation of the College Steps model working really well! 


Reflections on My College Experience

By: Billy Conley

I am pleased to announce that I am graduating on May 14, 2016. I have learned Personal Financial Management, Organizational Management Theory, Fundamentals of Economics, and Quest for Success.

In Quest for Success, I learned all about what college is all about. In Personal Financial Management class, I learned about stocks, marketing, budgeting, W2s, and other forms. In learned in Organizational Management Theory about running a business, how to work with a group, and I learned about different parts of different businesses. In Fundamentals of Economics we have learned so far about supply and demand, increases and decreases in supply, and increases and decreases in demand.

My college experience was well worth four semesters of full, exciting, complicated, fun, helpful and complex experiences. I learned more, I understand all of it, and more information than I ever had to take in all at once. Some of it was extremely hard when others were very easy to do at those times. Work is work, and class is class and fun is fun.

College Steps is sort of like doing and internship and classes, homework, and classwork, and assignments. College comes with more responsibilities to do and follow at the same time as your College Steps experience goes on throughout your two years at Southern Vermont College. Your College Steps experience will be the best time you have ever had.

Southern Vermont College is a very safe, trusting, and in my opinion, this college is the best where I am concerned. There are a lot of events during the day, and at night, and in the evenings, too. You can be on campus full time, or your can be a commuter just like me. I travel about 45minutes to an hour one way, so I have a long ride; the total is 90 minutes to two hours each day I come to campus, total. The college has basketball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse teams. The college has a wide selection of classes which run from health, business, nursing, math, science, history, English, art, music and others which are the subjects and classes offered to students.

Mentors are there to help students and support them. They are out there day and night helping as their work. Darcy is good with what she does, which is helping students and mentors all five days of the week. In college it is always a plus to meet new people, especially at Southern Vermont College.

Great Resource to Combat Cyberbullying

The folks at Affordable Colleges Online have also taken on the responsibility of educating students with disabilities on the negative impacts of cyberbullying by creating an in depth guide on the matter.

You can check out our entire guide here at this link:

This resource is very helpful for not only individuals with disabilities, but all students.

Peer Mentor Blog

What is a peer mentor? As a member of the NCC Peer Mentor team I have learned that it encompasses a series of abilities from every spectrum. At times one can be both a friend and a tutor. But, most importantly, a person who meets a variety of students with different personalities who can make your day with a smile or an action that shows that the College Steps student is growing academically and socially!

Jessica Gomez, second semester as a Peer Mentor.

Another day on campus....

Another great day on campus - today, these smiling faces have completed an exam, given class presentations, written articles for the school paper, worked in employment experiences, taken driving lessons, and are enjoying some social time before getting on the bus to do it all again tomorrow. Just another day in the life of college students!

College Steps Mentor Blog Post

Keila Hernandez

My name is Keila Hernandez, I am a sophomore at Southern Vermont College. I've been a mentor for a year now and I love it so much. Below are two pictures of some the wonderful relationships I have built in my role as a mentor at SVC. I attend class and lunch with Sarah, afterwards we focus on home work and Patrick and I are working on getting involved in social events on campus. 

Meeting with College Steps students every Monday Wednesday and Friday has been amazing. Not only do I feel that I am helping them grow, but they are helping me grow. The smile on their faces when we finish an assignment or have great conversation is what keeps me going everyday. They are always willing to learn new things and meet new mentors. This experience has been great for me and I wouldn't trade it for anything in this world! 

Mentor/Student Blog Post

By: Dawn Brownlow and Andrew Fontana


Becoming a college steps mentor has taught me many things besides helping and supporting other students. I’ve learned that being a mentor gives you the opportunity to not only help, but also be a friend and a role model. Every student that I worked with, I’ve been able to build a good connection with each of them where we would smile, laugh, and have fun overall while we worked together. Each day, the students I work with always seem to grow and progress in many ways whether it’s their academics or social involvement. Not only do they grow, but the mentors grow as well by becoming much more confidant, and together with the students they support.


This is my last year at Southern Vermont College I would like to say how my experience at this college has been fun for me.  I have learned so much from this college. The one thing I have learned is to try your best at something even if it is hard.  My first year, I took Quest For Success with Stacey Hills. At first I did not know how hard the class was but, I stuck with the class, and I ended the class with an A-.  The second year in college I was more interested in learning about different music cultures. Since then I’ve taken even more music classes with Eric Despard. I really likes his classes!

Resources and Scholarships

Please make note of new resources and scholarships for students with disabilities:
 -- College Resources for Students with Disabilities:

 -- Scholarships for Students with Disabilities:

Building skills and making memories

Wonderful things happen with College Steps, even when classes are not in session! Over the winter break, AIC students and Program Coordinator continued working on independent living and social skill building, attending a Springfield Falcons hockey game. They independently purchased tickets, located their seats, and participated in intermission activities. College experiences build long-lasting memories.