A Chance to Explore College Opportunities in the Southeast for Students with IDD

/ June 13, 2017

By Tammy Day

About the Author

Tammy smiling

Tammy Day is the program director of Next Steps at Vanderbilt, and she is the current chair of the Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance. Tammy has been an educator for more than 30 years, and the guiding focus of her vocation has always been, “How do I equip my students for life after school?”

Our hope is that this weekly blog will offer information you want to know, so if you have a question you want answered about employment for people with disabilities or other mysteries of the world of work, please email me at janet.shouse@vanderbilt.edu. Our hope is that this weekly blog will offer information you want to know, so if you have a question you want answered about employment for people with disabilities or other mysteries of the world of work, please email janet.shouse@vumc.org.


The Third Annual Southeastern Postsecondary Education Alliance Capacity Building Institute Conference is being hosted on the Vanderbilt University campus by Next Steps at Vanderbilt on June 26-27. Representatives from more than 30 universities are gathering to network and to share best practices that are happening on their campuses. This is the place for students, families, educators, and providers to join in these “after high-school” conversations.

The conference is offering 32 presentations that focus on four strands of information:

  • The Student Perspective strand will provide participants with information shared by alumni and current students from across the Southeast with titles such as “Living and Learning with Autism” and “We Made It: Students in transition.”
  • The Program of Study strand is designed to help new programs with nuts-and-bolts explanations, and existing programs with ideas for enhancement. Two session titles from this strand include “Perspectives on Academic Inclusion” and “Orientation: Starting each Semester Off Right.”
  • The Administration, Collaboration, and Policy strand will provide information to university staff and faculty that will assist with their work in developing ever more inclusive learning communities. Conference participants will gain insight through such sessions as “Ensuring Higher Education is Affordable for All” and “Building Successful Programs through Cross-campus Collaborations.”
  • The fourth strand is Transition to College. These sessions will be led by a current student, educators, program, and staff as they share their experiences in making the big transition to higher education. Two examples of session titles from this strand are “My Transition to College Life” and “How to Prepare for Inclusive Higher Education while in High School.”

This two-day conference will also have guest speaker and actor David DeSanctis, star of 2014’s “Where Hope Grows,” a campus walking tour, and more. Erik Carter, professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University and principal investigator for the TennesseeWorks project, will be Monday’s keynote speaker at 1:00 p.m.

David Desantis Headshot

David DeSanctis

The cost for students and family members to attend the conference is $75 for both days and that includes breakfast and lunch both days. Professionals can register for $125.  Registrants are also able to purchase a parking pass on campus for $10 each day.

Erik Carter Headshot

Erik Carter

But wait there is more … sounds just like a TV infomercial … but there really is more, and it is free. We are having a College Fair that is open to the community on Monday, June 26, 4:00-6:00 p.m. More than 15 Southeastern universities and colleges with inclusive higher education programs will be exhibitors in the Vanderbilt Student Life Center, 310 25th Ave. South.  Participants will be able to speak with people from all of these programs to hear first-hand what each offers their students. At 6:30, we are having a Nashville Info Session, and students and staff from the IDEAL program at Lipscomb University and the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program will have an information session focused on what is happening right here in Nashville. Free parking is also being provided at the 25th Avenue Parking Garage. To access this free parking, participants must enter from the Highland Avenue entrance only and park on levels 7 thru 11.

What a great way for students, families, educators, and professionals to come together to share experiences, ask questions, and plants seeds of college dreams. We hope you will join us.

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