ESU Discussing Recognizing Students with Disabilities

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EAST STROUDSBURG -- The first group to go through a program at East Stroudsburg University that helps people with disabilities will be recognized for their accomplishments at the end of the school year.

The first students to go through the three-year program will finish in May.

The university is trying to decide how best to recognize their achievement.

Bridget Nealon is a Special Education major at ESU.

She is a strong supporter of the students involved in the Career and Independent Living and Learning Studies Program, also known as "CILLS".

"I think the program is really good," said Nealon.

The students involved in the three-year program have intellectual or other developmental disabilities. The program is designed to help them prepare for the working world.

"I know one student who has an internship at the gym so he does that. He works there, so it's kind of placing them in college setting so they can be like everyone else," said Nealon.

The first group to be part of "CILLS" will be completing the program this spring and will receive non-degree certificates.

The university wants to recognize that first class, but the question is how?

Especially since the students are not formally enrolled at East Stroudsburg University.

"I think that maybe they provide a section for them at graduation. They don't have to walk but they're there. They acknowledge them, announce their names or something. They can stand up and be proud for what they did," said Nealon.

No matter what, students want the "CILLS" group to get the recognition they believe they deserve for all their hard work for the past three years.

"I think it's a great opportunity for them, they definitely deserve it," said Shana Lordi, an ESU Junior.

"I think they should definitely be recognized at some sort of ceremony. I think that the program is very good. And they worked hard to get where they're at," said Nealon.

The Chair of the Special Education Department at East Stroudsburg University believes the students who are part of the "CILLS" program should be part of the commencement ceremony.

University leaders plan to discuss the issue next month.