Student Story: Campus Newspaper


Below, Grace Wohlberg shares her experience participating in the Voice, Norwalk Community College's student publication.  Her story, "Finance Class Helps Students," was featured in their December 11, 2017 publication and is pictured below.

My name is Grace Wohlberg and I have been attending the College Steps Program at Norwalk Community College (NCC) for two years. College Steps has allowed me to pursue my passion for learning via their mentor and social integration programs .  I really enjoy reading and writing and I have focused on these interests by taking English classes.  I particularly enjoyed my journalism and public speaking classes.  I have met so many new people with interesting stories of their own.  I joined the school newspaper, the Voice, and have made new friends. The Voice allows me to learn about the different events  going on around the campus and I enjoy interviewing people as well.  All in all, College Steps has really enhanced my college experience and has given me the confidence to face new situations. 

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Student Story: Art Classes and Off-Campus Outings


My name is Christopher Potter and I have been a student at College Steps-Norwalk Community College (NCC) for almost two years now. One of my goals for being a college student at College Steps is gaining experience in something new or that I haven't done before. I have had the chance to take several courses at NCC: English, Graphic Design I, 2D Design, Drawing I, Ceramics, and Digital Imaging: Adobe Photoshop. So far, my favorite course has been Ceramics-- I have been working with the same professor for two semesters now and have gotten to know her. I have been working on creating original plates, model houses, statues, and tiles. My favorite project so far was the plates project because it was interesting to transfer pictures on to the plates. 

Christopher's favorite ceramics project: transferring images onto plates. 

Christopher's favorite ceramics project: transferring images onto plates. 


My favorite part about being a College Steps student is hanging out with friends and peer mentors. Every Wednesday I also take the bus into the community with a Peer Mentor. I enjoy being able to pick a place, plan out my trip, an then go with a peer mentor on the bus. I feel like I have gained independence from using the bus- by purchasing/using a ticket, planning my trips, learning bus routes. I have traveled to the following places on the bus; Matthews Park, local cafes, the Norwalk Public Library, and local museums/galleries.

Christopher on a trip out in the community to the Norwalk Public Library. 

Christopher on a trip out in the community to the Norwalk Public Library. 


College Steps student and peer mentor at Southern Vermont College honored as youth leaders

College Steps student 

College Steps student 

We are so proud of College Steps student, Alyvia Metcalfe and peer mentor Amber Archer for their leadership and hard work!

The following article appeared in the "Bennington Banner" on Sunday, December 10, 2017: 

Students Amber Archer and Alyvia Metcalfe will receive the Deborah Lisi-Baker Youth Leader Award from the Vermont Center for Independent Living, Southern Vermont College has announced. The awards will be presented by VCIL's executive director, Sarah Launderville, and Deborah Lisi-Baker at VCIL's Holiday Open House on Thursday, Dec. 14, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the First Baptist Church at 601 Main St.

The Deborah Lisi-Baker Youth Leader Award was created by VCIL's board of directors in 2006 in honor of the disability rights organization and emerging leaders who believe in the promise of disability rights and independent living movement. For much of her life, Lisi-Baker has advocated for human and civil rights of people with disabilities. She served as VCIL's executive director for many years and retired in 2009. 

Archer, of North Troy, is a sophomore majoring in radiologic sciences at SVC. She is a mentor in the College Steps program at SVC. In addition to Archer's volunteer efforts on campus and in the community, she learned American Sign Language and has worked at a local high school with deaf and hearing-impaired students. According to Darcy Oakes, program coordinator of College Steps at SVC, "Her work with young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the College campus supports them in reaching their academic, vocational, social and independent living goals." 

Metcalfe, Bennington, is a second-year student at SVC through the College Steps program. Due to her influence and extensive social network, Meltcalfe has facilitated connections whereby her fellow College Steps classmates have become engaged in work experiences with local business owners. Metcalfe is well connected with United Counseling Services in Bennington. She is currently working in an internship at Bringing You Vermont and is employed at Price Chopper. Oakes, who nominated Meltcalfe, said, "Alyvia is happy to use her influence to forward not only her own goals, but also the goals of her friends and peers." 

College Steps partners with colleges and universities to support students of varying ability (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities) with their college pursuits. 

Behind the Label at NOVA Loudoun

Photo credit: Scott Lusk

On November 8th, A Place to Be came to NOVA Loudoun to present Behind The Label.  This powerful show reminded us to look inside people and ourselves, and realize that we are more than just labels.

A Place to Be, a performance-based music and drama therapy program in Virginia, describes their show Behind the Label:

"40 powerful minutes filled with monologues and music that explain what it’s like to live with various challenges including Autism, Down Syndrome, ADD, Anxiety, Cerebral Palsy, Depression, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Heart conditions, Dyslexia, and many other medical and life challenges. Written by the brave young people who struggle and triumph over their challenges every day, the goal of the project is to help teach people to see beyond diagnosis, beyond labels, and into human beings. "

College Steps student, Scott Lusk photographed the event. 

Photo credit: Scott Lusk

Photo credit: Scott Lusk

Photo credit: Scott Lusk

Photo credit: Scott Lusk

USBLN 2018 Annual Conference and Expo

The US Business Leadership Network is currently recruiting college students and recent graduates with disabilities for the 2018 Rising Leaders Initiatives!

Applications are now open for the 2018 Rising Leaders Mentoring Program and Rising Leadership AcademyDeadline to apply is December 18th, and the application can be found through this link:

 2018 Rising Leaders Mentoring Program and Rising Leadership Academy Application Form.

Mentorship has a big impact on students transitioning from school to work and employment. So far, 40% of Rising Leaders mentees from the 2017 Mentoring Program have gained employment since it began. They also had 17 job offers extended to their students by the end of the week at the 2017 Rising Leadership Academy. A flyer of the programs can be seen below.



Student story: College Student, Vocalist, Firefighter

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My name is Johnny Bairaktaris, and I have been a student in the College Steps Program at Norwalk Community College for almost one year. Currently, I am taking three courses at NCC; two of the courses are exercise classes, and the other course is a chorus class. Exercising is one of my passions; I work out every day and being in good physical shape is important to me. Additionally, I am passionate about singing. I have been singing since I was about 8 years old and chorus is something that I love taking. This past summer, I earned my Guard Card through NCC.

Since I was young, I have always wanted to be a firefighter; a job where I am helping people and saving lives is important to me. This past October, I was sworn into the Southport Volunteer Fire Department, as a active Volunteer Firefighter. Additionally, with the support of College Steps, I became a Probationary Firefighter for the Rowayton Volunteer Fire Department. I look forward to taking on more responsibilities for both departments. Every Thursday, at the Rowayton Fire Department, I participate in drills-- this is the highlight of my volunteer experience. 

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Open House at both the Annandale and Loudoun campuses

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College Steps is a non-profit organization that partners with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) at both the Annandale and Loudoun campuses to provide support for college/college-bound students living with social or learning challenges (e.g., learning disabilities, autism, developmental, or intellectual disabilities).

On Thursday, December 14th from 6:00-7:00 PM, we will offer an Open House at both the Annandale and Loudoun campuses. Please RSVP by December 8th as space is limited. 

Register for the Open House at NOVA - Annandale

Register for the Open House at NOVA - Loudoun

Please contact Brya Emery, Director of Admissions & Enrollment with any questions at or 802-578-0035.

We look forward to meeting you!

College Steps student at NOVA: Loudoun is a Rising Star

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Rose Pleskow is attacking life without boundaries.

"She has a competitive spirit, she wants to do better, she wants to go faster," said Denis Crean.

Born with intellectual disabilities and epilepsy, the Reston, Virginia, native competes internationally in open water swimming.

"My mom started swimming when she was pregnant with me, so I've been swimming all my life," said Rose Pleskow.

Pleskow trains with a group called WaveOne Swimming in the Potomac River at National Harbor, Maryland, with her mom right by her side.

"Just to look up and sometimes our faces meet," said Susan Pleskow. "It’s just pure heaven to me."

Rose is one terrific athlete, along with open water swimming, she’s quite the runner as well.

Back in 2011 at the Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece, she won the bronze medal in the 1500 meters race, which is just a perfect example of Rose being able to do anything she puts her mind to.

"When I won the bronze medal, I almost cried because I worked so hard for it," said Rose.

Now, she's focused on starting college and getting a degree.

"Don’t let the people in the past tell you that you can’t do anything because you can do it," said Rose.

Rose is definitely becoming a leader everybody should follow.