Three Florida Keys Community College students are among the first in the state—and the only in the Florida College System—to be awarded scholarships by the newly-created Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities (FCSUA).  The students, Jennifer Averette, John Golden, and Jalyssa Martinez, will each receive $7,000 for the current spring and summer 2017 terms to offset costs of tuition, fees, books, on-campus housing, meals, and other expenses.

The scholarship awardees are a part of the College’s Project ACCESS program.  “ACCESS” stands for “accessing community college educational experiences, social experiences, and skills for careers.” FKCC’s Project ACCESS is a unique, limited-access program that provides comprehensive support to students with intellectual and learning disabilities, who are seeking a degree, certificate, or career training.

Beyond their coursework, Project ACCESS students receive tutoring and mentorship support.  All participate in at least one college club to encourage campus engagement, social bonding, and personal development.  In addition to their regular curriculum, Project ACCESS students take an independent living course to help build soft skills—such as communicating, cleaning, cooking, and financial planning.  The College also collaborates with local employers to provide job coaching and to arrange internship and job placement.  Together, the elements of Project ACCESS help students to ultimately be prepared for gainful employment and independence.

“I see a great deal of potential in each of these individuals,” said College President Dr. Jonathan Gueverra of the Project ACCESS students.  “It is only wise that we invest in their futures—not only so they can reach their own personal fulfillment and success, but also so that our community and workforce can enjoy the contributions they are very capable of making.”

Project ACCESS was created in 2011, originally to serve as an extension of Monroe County School District’s TIES programs.  Since then, FKCC’s Project ACCESS has expanded to also accommodate students from outside of the County who are seeking training and support for special learners.  Project ACCESS students can now apply to live in the College’s residence hall.  In addition to lending to a more traditional collegiate experience, living on campus further fosters social growth and independence.

For more information about Project ACCESS, contact Karla Malsheimer, FKCC’s Coordinator of Transition Programs, at 305-809-3292 or karla.malsheimer@fkcc.edu.

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