In thinking about preparing for adulthood as your child nears the end of high school, Portland State University’s Career and Community Studies program provides an inclusive, four-year college experience that fosters meaningful employment, independent living skills and self determination.
Learn more about the program, and what current students and parents have to say:
College student Massoud Beardsley is a sophomore in Career and Community Studies at Portland State University. Side-by-side with other PSU students, Massoud has completed courses such as Health, Happiness and Human Rights; Creative Writing; Popular Culture; and Introduction to Acting. Massoud also works part-time at the PSU Recreation Center along with other PSU students. He loves baseball and belongs to the PSU Baseball Club, competing with teams from other NW colleges. In his spare time, he hangs out with friends, and they enjoy a variety of activities on and off campus.
Currently, there are 20 college students in the CCS program. The first group of five students will graduate this year, receiving their certificates and participating in commencement.
Employment. The CCS faculty and staff have supported every student to gain inclusive competitive wage employment within their first year of the program. Students receive individualized job development and job coaching. Students work alongside other PSU students in jobs such as campus child care, groundskeeping and facilities maintenance, the Recreation Center, the Vikings Pavilion, the bookstore, and the library. Some students also work for off-campus employers, such as Target, Smith Tea, Moda Center, and Northwest Disability Support. During their third and fourth years, CCS students focus on achieving employment prior to graduation in a career-focused job that matches their interests, outside of PSU.
Academic Courses. Every student is supported by the CCS staff, academic coaches (who are graduate students in education), the PSU Disability Resource Center, and the faculty, to complete academic courses with other PSU students. These academic courses are selected by the student, based upon their interests and career goals. CCS students complete one or more courses in University Studies along with other PSU students, such as Portland; Immigration, Migration and Belonging; Families and Society; and others. Students have also selected courses offered by a variety of other PSU departments, such as Public Speaking, Introduction to Acting, and Introduction to Child and Family Studies. Additionally, students enjoy classes such as Salsa Dancing, Weight Training, and University Choir.
Independent Living. CCS students learn independent living skills as they navigate the campus, manage their individual schedules, and use email and text messaging to communicate. As Maddy Schumacher, a CCS junior, described her activities for one term, “I took Immigration, Migration, and Belonging,..I worked at the PSU Rec Center! …I prepared for meetings and class and work and [got to my appointments] on time.”
Campus Life Activities. CCS encourages students to become involved in campus life, including social, athletic, recreational and volunteer service activities. Each CCS student can choose to have a “peer navigator”, a PSU student who joins the CCS student in exploring and engaging in campus activities. Here is how Maddy outlined some of her campus life activities, “I hang out with [my peer navigator] and eat lunch and play games with [friends]. I went snowshoeing and kayaking with PSU Outdoor trips!”
Asya Beardsley, mother of CCS sophomore Massoud Beardsley, described his activities with his peer navigator, “Massoud and his peer navigator have volunteered at the food bank together, they got massages together…they’ve gone to PSU basketball games, they went to a Trailblazers game… they’ve gone to yoga…They don’t end up always doing the same thing. They’ve really intended to do something really fun and different, something she would like or something he would like.”
Outcomes. Parents have observed positive outcomes for their sons and daughters who are participating in CCS. Conrad Schumacher, Maddy’s father, explained, “Almost everyone that sees Madeliene says, ‘Oh my gosh, what has happened?’ The growth that she’s made is just phenomenal. I can see this as a…father…, but when I see old friends that haven’t seen her for a while or my mom who sees her every once in a while, [they see] these great strides…, that’s that sign of high expectations – that sort of high, reasonable expectations [of the PSU CCS Program] and she is really responding to those…This constant growth in really all ways, but especially in her ability to sort of navigate the complexities of the world.”
Rachel’s mother, Ann Esteve, remarked, “…it hasn’t just been an experiment, it’s been a genuine college experience. In the past we thought maybe community college or some classes, and it’s kind of a mind-blower that she’s here at PSU.”
Advice for new CCS students. In recent presentations, two CCS seniors, who will graduate in 2020, gave advice for beginning CCS students.
Will Larson remarked, “My advice to a first year student is don’t give up. College might be difficult at times but we are all smart, you can do anything you put your mind to it. If something’s hard use support like teachers and mentors, but more importantly the CCS Program always can help.”
Rachel Esteve exclaimed, “My advice for you is to be yourself. And have fun with it.”
Not ready to apply? You can learn more by attending an upcoming INFO NIGHT!