ACCESS Program celebrates milestone

Tyler Gall, an ACCESS Program student from West Point speaks about his experiences in the MSU program. THe program celebrated reaching Comprehensive Transition Program Status Monday.  (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

A unique Mississippi State University program celebrated a big milestone Monday, April 17.

The ACCESS (Academics Campus life Community involvement Employment opportunities Socialization Self-awareness) Program for students with intellectual disabilities has been recognized as a comprehensive transition program, a designation given only to around a fourth of like programs. It is the only such program in the state of Mississippi.

Mississippi State Director of Student Support Services Julie Capella said the designation, which is given by the U.S. Department of Education will make it easier for qualified students to afford the program’s $17,500 per semester price tag, and hopefully attract more students.

“The biggest thing is that a student can receive federal aid,” Capella said. “That helps us with students who couldn’t afford to come in the past.”

Students in the program are non degree-seeking, but interact with other students on campus and are involved in campus organizations. They also take both academic and life skills courses in order to be better prepared to face the real world and live independently.

“I’ve met a lot of friends here,” said Rick Roizer, an ACCESS student from Memphis. Ms. Elizabeth (Williams, ACCESS Program coordinator) is one of the best that there is. These people are like family to me.”

Roizier added that he enjoyed watching the MSU baseball team play.

Tyler Gall, a West Point native and the first Golden Triangle student in the ACCESS Program said he hoped the program would continue to grow.

Currently, nine students are enrolled in the ACCESS Program, with that number expected to almost double to 17 next semester.