Texas A&M University — Bridge to Career in Human Service

Bridge to Career

Walter Shumac IV sitting on stairs on campus
Walter Shumac IV of Cedar Hill, Texas, is enrolled in the Bridge to Career in Human Service program at Texas A&M University’s Center on Disability and Development.

Statewide Need
The postsecondary results of an appropriate public-school education for students with disabilities should be evidenced by employment, postsecondary education, or both within one year of high school. The 2008 Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act included provisions for equal college opportunities for students with disabilities. Community college programs that specifically address the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) exist, but these are not necessarily accessible to those with cognitive or severe disabilities. Additionally, they may provide only a certificate showing completion of hours or years but not achievement of skill level or expertise. Existing programs frequently are not fully inclusive, and many consist of separate classes rather than supporting individuals with severe disabilities to attend “regular” classes.

Project Goal
Provide an inclusive post-secondary education program for individuals with IDD. The academic course of study and enrichment classes prepares students for employment in health and human services with a wide range of choices.

Project Summary
Project Bridge to Career (B2C) developed and implemented a Human Services program to provide access for individuals with IDD to an inclusive post-secondary education program (PATHs). PATHs incorporated the necessary supports and program components to ensure access, participation, and successful performance from those enrolled. The program provided a year of training, including supervised, field-based experience, leading to a certificate and job placement.

The program secured partnerships to provide financial and independent living support, as well as practicum and internship site opportunities to participants. A curriculum was developed, and national certifications were achieved in “Direct Support Professionals” and “Childcare Professionals” fields. Graduates of the program hold certifications of training in their respective fields.

A wraparound support model was developed and delivered for every student participant. This model included identification of needs, person centered planning, mentoring, advising, assistive technology, universal design of classroom and curriculum, and staff support. A program evaluation research plan was implemented through which data was collected and reviewed each year.

The program is fully self-sustaining through private pay and Vocational Rehabilitation funds. The How-to Manual structure and procedures for dissemination have been developed, and a grant was secured to replicate the program in other universities across the state.

  • Impact
    • 79 individuals graduated from the program
      • Roughly 50% of all graduating classes were made up of individuals with IDD
      • 70-75% of all students entering the program graduated from the program
      • 88% continued competitive employment one year after graduation
    • 37 additional individuals were on track to graduate in May 2017

Project Period
Jan 2012 – Dec 2016

400 Harvey Mitchell PKWY South, Suite 300
College Station, TX 78745

Geographic Reach

shape of state of Texas colored orange

Area of Emphasis