Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) came to Geneva for a second time as 10 high school students met with Geneva staff members for a day of hands-on learning in preparation for a wide variety of careers.
A national event, DMD grew to include 17,000 high school students in 2013. The students who visited Geneva this year hail from New Horizon School, a public special education school that serves students age 5 to 21 with special needs from the 14 school districts in Beaver County and its surrounding communities.
“This trip has been wonderful,” stated Rene Fencil, teacher for the vocational preparation program at New Horizon School. “Our students had an array of experiences,” she added, saying that the Geneva staff members who served as mentors were “very, very spot on.”
Starting at 9 a.m., the students attended a session with Scott Sharik, Geneva’s Director of Human Resources, before visiting Geneva’s Academic Counseling Center & Educational Support Services (ACCESS) Office, and then embarking on a tour of the campus. Each student had opportunity to job shadow a mentor—experiencing tasks ranging from mail delivery and file organization to folding clothes for the campus bookstore—before gathering together for lunch in Alexander Hall’s Benedum Room.
The purpose of the day, says ACCESS Director Christy Coulter, is “to expose students to a variety of types of work, encouraging them to consider future options.”
DMD, according to the US Department of Labor’s website, “began in 1999 with fewer than three dozen student participants as part of a White House effort to increase the profile of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), celebrated every October.”
Bender Consulting Services, Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., serves as the area’s regional coordinator for DMD. Founded by Geneva graduate Joyce (Ciletti ’75) Bender, the mission of Bender Consulting is to “recruit and hire people with disabilities for competitive career opportunities in the public and private sectors.” Bender Consulting's involvement in DMD began when Jonathan Young, who worked in disability policy in the Clinton White House, asked Joyce Bender to encourage businesses to become involved. The company’s regional coordination team encourages businesses to provide mentoring opportunities, recruits students with disabilities and matches them according to career interests.
Geneva College invites students to accept the challenge of an academically excellent, Christ-centered education. Offering nearly 40 undergraduate majors, Adult Degree Programs with fully online and campus-based options, and seven graduate degrees, Geneva has programs that place students at the forefront of higher learning. Adhering to the inerrancy of Scripture, a Geneva education is grounded in God’s word as well as in a core curriculum designed to prepare students vocationally to think, write and communicate well in today’s world.
In the past four years, on average, 90% of Geneva students are working or in grad school within six months after graduation.