On May 10, GateWay Community College (GWCC) honored the First Place Transition Academy 2018 graduating class at their commencement ceremony, marking the end of the two-year program in partnership with First Place AZ and the Foundation for Senior Living.
“We congratulate our graduates and look forward to their continued success and future accomplishments,” says Brad Herron-Valenzuela, Transition Academy Instructor. “We’re especially proud of each and every students’ efforts to live an independent and self-determined life.”
The ceremony, held at Grand Canyon University, awarded students with a certificate in Independent Living.
Within the Transition Academy, SARRC teaches independent living skills such as daily living, social and employment skills. Classes on finances, interpersonal relationships, advocacy and personal safety are held at GWCC and taught by SARRC staff, who also serve as adjunct faculty.
2018 graduate Joanna is looking forward to continuing her journey to independence, a new roommate and is thankful for her experience in the two-year program.
“My favorite memory [as a student] is my job coach Joy, who helped me find my job, and for the supportive SARRC and First Place teams,” says Joanna.
For the last two years, the graduates, as well as their first-year Academy peers, have been living in a multigenerational property that integrates seniors with students. But in July 2018, first-year academy students will will live at First Place AZ, a new development offering supportive housing and a residential transition program for individuals with autism and for other neuro-diverse populations, as well as sites for education, training and creative inspiration.
"If you can dream it you can do it," says Joanna to her incoming peers.
About First Place Transition Academy operated by SARRC
The First Place Transition Academy operated by SARRC, is a two-year intensive and comprehensive community based program designed to transition young adults with autism to living independently in the community. Through a partnership with Foundation for Senior Living, First Place AZ and SARRC, students live on their own apartments within a multi-generational apartment complex. Learn more here.