Skip Navigation
*To search for student contact information, login to FlashLine and choose the "Directory" icon in the FlashLine masthead (blue bar).

College Teams Up with Education for Student Career Exploration

Posted Nov. 30, 2011

By Anne Dudley
Nate Edwards with Careers and Community Studies (CCS) program of the College and Graduate School of Education, Health, and Human ServicesLast summer, Nate Edwards, TV2 general manager for the fall 2011 semester, gave atour of the television studio in Franklin Hall to students from the . From there, an interesting relationship formed between CCS and the College of Communication and Information's School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University.

CCS is a four-year program that serves students with intellectual disabilities. The program currently operates on the Transition and Post-Secondary Programs for Students Grant (TPSID). TPSID is a five-year grant program developed under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.The first year included program planning while the next four years have students on campus based in White Hall.

After touring the station this summer, several students tried out for positions in front of and behind the camera for TV2 in the fall. After auditions, Edwards reconnected with the CCS Project Director, Yvonne Michali and Cindy Kenyon, a graduate assistant, with the idea of having a once-weekly class for students to learn more about broadcasting, news and video production.

Spec Ed classThe course, held in the television studio in Franklin Hall, is part of the students’ career exploration requirement. Students get hands-on experience working with video production equipment with have Edwards as the instructor.

The tactile experience may be more effective for students’ learning, Michali said. Usually, students in the career exploration class begin by discussing a career and may only receive hands-on experience at the end of the semester through a shadow day in the community. Edwards and TV2 allow them to do just the opposite. CCS students have the experience in the studio followed by a debriefing of what they learned.

“The students are learning more quickly about the skills and needs of news jobs,” Michali said.

“Everyone in society should understand what goes into the news,” Edwards said. “[Broadcast news] is more than entertainment; it is service. We provide a public service to help other people.”

CCS students spend their freshmen year exploring their strengths, weaknesses and interests. A challenge for many intellectually-disabled students is obtaining jobs based on their actual interests, rather than just their ability. CCS’s mission is to help students develop an understanding of the career they are interested in and prepare them for that career, much like a traditional college student’s experience.

“It’s about improving the students’ quality of life,” Michali included as part of the program’s goals.

Students were required to purchase an iPad for the program. They use the iPads to turn in class assignments to Dropbox, an online file sharing and saving software, to learn about time-management and build their technology skills. Several students have downloaded academically-oriented applications for note-taking, math or recording class lectures.

Kenyon noted that technology is often a barrier for intellectually-disabled people, further preventing them from attaining employment.

Kenyon said, “What’s great about the iPad is how excited [the students] are about them.”

For the journalism career exploration class, the students have used their iPads to practice live shots outdoors, practice their broadcasting skills at home, as well as reading and watching more news.

Edwards said that “changing technology is a part of the broadcast industry. [The industry] is constantly looking for cheaper ways to do things; iPads and mobile video are part of those developments. By incorporating the iPad into the day-to-day activity, it’s not only accessible to them but, we’re on the cutting edge. I am teaching them things that are beneficial to the broadcast industry and things a lot of agencies are starting to use.”

Eventually, Edwards is planning to have the students produce their own television segment. However, the future of the program is dependent upon both Edwards and the new general manager of TV2.

“I am confident that the next general manager will be more than happy to continue the program," he said. "I have already volunteered my time [for next semester]. The GM is a very caring person who would already be helping out with the program if [the class] wasn’t on his day to produce the newscast.”

Catherine Lavelle, a student in the program who is interested in nursing and special education, said, “What I like [about working in the TV studio] is you get to work at the TV station and work on a TV show.”

“When you work in a TV studio it’s a team process,” Edwards said. “Without a team you don’t have a show. Working at TV2 is like working in an orchestra. We all have to work in harmony to make that song, which is a show.”

Krista Stumm, who hopes to pursue writing, added, “[it’s a] job we’re all doing as a team. And [CCI is] giving us this experience.”

The students in the CCS program interact with many departments on campus through courses, campus resources and research. The students will use the Career Services Center to find on campus jobs of their preference. Faculty from across campus are conducting research studies based on the experience of the CCS student cohort.

Society has an image of intellectually-disabled people, Michali said. This program gives both CCS students and traditional Kent State students the opportunity to interact and learn more about each other. In this way, CCS has the ability to make small changes in attitudes and perceptions in the Kent State community. With this understanding, Kent State graduates can take these ideas into their communities and spark more change.

Michali hopes that a potential societal change in perceptions of the abilities of intellectually-disabled individuals and provide them with more opportunity for careers they are specifically prepared for and interested in pursuing. Michali hopes that change will start with internship opportunities for CCS students.

“We have already been told by traditional Kent State students that working with students from the CCS program has changed their lives,” Micahli said.

“The students have to be attentive and disciplined,” Edwards said. "They have to work as a team, hit their mark and be good listeners, and most importantly, they have to care. The students are passionate people who come back every week with a smile on their faces ready to do work. I hear [from the transition coordinators] that they talk about this program more than any other; they talk about it all week.”

Photo by Anne Dudley: Nate Edwards, TV2 general manager for the fall 2011 semester, gives a tour of Franklin Hall to students from the Careers and Community Studies (CCS) program of the College and Graduate School of Education, Health, and Human Services.

Media Contact: Jennifer Kramer, APR, 330-672-1960,