Estrella Mountain hosts workshop for college-bound students with disabilities
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Estrella Mountain hosts workshop for college-bound students with disabilities

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  • Karen Harbin-Januzik/Estrella Mountain Community College

Estrella Mountain Community College Student Jason Chavez

The thought of attending college for many high school students can be daunting, but even more so for students with disabilities. The Disability Resources & Services (DRS) at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) wants to create a solution for those students.

On Tuesday, September 15, EMCC will be presenting a free self-advocacy workshop for high school students, age 16+, with disabilities who are considering transitioning to college after they graduate, and for current college students with disabilities.

Estrella Mountain hosts workshop for college-bound students with disabilities EMCCStudentJasonChavez

Estrella Mountain Community College student Jason Chavez

The workshop also invites parents, teachers, counselors or any one that wants to learn about self-empowerment, but the focus will be on the students learning self-advocacy skills.

According to Jill Nico, DRS Program Advisor at EMCC, disabilities are often referred to as ‘visible and invisible.’ It is often the invisible, such as learning disabilities, that can be the most challenging for students as they transition from high school to college.

The DRS not only works with the students, but also collaborates with faculty and staff to identify the potential barriers in the learning environment for the student with a disability, and then helps design solutions that are specific to that student’s needs.

“This is a ‘strengths-based approach’ to help students focus on what they CAN do, and realize that their disability doesn’t define them. When they better understand themselves, and the resources and services that are available to them, they discover their own strengths,” said Nico. “It is a very positive experience; it gives them tools and confidence for their future.”

The workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 5:00 – 7:30 p.m., in the Plaza Gallery on the EMCC campus, located at 3000 North Dysart Avenue in Avondale, AZ.

Space is limited so RSVP’s are required by noon on the day of the event to or 623-935-8624. Late RSVP’s will be considered if there is still room available.

Estrella Mountain hosts workshop for college-bound students with disabilities WorkshopFlierGuest speakers include Simon Crawford, Director of Academic Programs at Northbridge College Success Program, and Kari Rambo, a Speech-Language Pathologist and Certified Autism Specialist. Nico is the originator and facilitator of the event, and as a DRS advisor at EMCC, she will be able to assist students with specific questions about the college and its resources.

Nico is the parent of a child with disabilities, and that is how she became an advocate and somewhat of a self-taught expert on self-empowerment. She has her degree in chemical engineering and had a successful career, but after experiencing educational road blocks for her child, her path took her in another direction.

“I had to do research, seek-out support services and learn how to help my son be successful as a student and an adult with a promising future,” said Nico. “Now, I get to empower others with disabilities to seek-out their own potential.”

Estrella Mountain Community College is part of the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. EMCC offers transfer-ready academic courses and job-specific occupational training to approximately 14,000 students annually.

The flagship campus is located on Thomas and Dysart Roads in Avondale and the EMCC Buckeye is located in downtown Buckeye, AZ. or