By Vittoria Christie-Campolongo
My college years before Penn State have been spent in two colleges –at Cape Cod Community College during the three years I spent in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and, when I returned back Pennsylvania in 2012, at Harrisburg Community College (HACC). I enjoyed my time at the Cape and explored both academic and vocational areas. While at school there, I worked a variety of interesting jobs, including at an animal farm called ZooQuarium, a T-shirt embroidery factory, and a travel agency. When I came back to mid-state PA, I enrolled in HACC and took classes in English literature, digital photography and black and white film photography, and theater.
In the fall of 2016, I enrolled in a Career Studies Program at Penn State Harrisburg. The program is brand new and geared to providing vocational preparation in a college setting to young adults with physical and cognitive disabilities, including those with learning disabilities like myself. I am now in my second semester of a two-year program and continue to enjoy my college life. Like most students, I do have a routine.
So here is a day in my college life in Penn State. I get up– after I push the snooze button three or four times, of course– then get ready for school and have breakfast, which includes about three cups of coffee (extra-extra cream). Since I have not yet ventured into the driving world (though I am going to learn this spring), I then ask either my mother or father to drive me to school, which is a bit of a drive from the west shore—45 minutes, more or less, depending on the rush hour traffic. I usually arrive 10 minutes early for class and either buy another cup of coffee or talk to the students in my class.
My first and main class is customer relations, a course mainly geared to learn how to deal with customers in a business setting. My teacher is very hands-on and helps all the students in the class, which is small enough for individual attention. We also have peer mentors from the college to help us in class and to offer companionship and involvement in campus clubs and activities, like the Valentine’s Day cake decorating event sponsored by a campus club that let students pick and decorate a cake to take home for Valentine’s Day. Here’s a photo of mine, which was delicious and lasted just two days at home!
The program also has a coordinator for jobs, who helps us gain insight into jobs and provides hands-on training by having us as students work in job settings fit for our personalities and in work areas that we as students want to learn. So, twice a week after I report to the classroom, I go down to my practicum, which is currently in the copy center of the college administrative office. I stay and help out there for the morning. After that I then go to eat lunch in the campus cafeteria, which has a great sushi bar, though I do enjoy a good burger or chicken fingers now and then. After lunch, the peer mentors and the students usually go to the library to do their homework. The practicum part of the program will also soon be teaching cash register operation and will provide a register for hands-on learning. This is a subject of interest to me, since I did some cash register and credit card work for a thrift store job I had at Cape Cod and consider this to be a useful skill for a variety of work settings.
In addition to the career studies curriculum, I do take a college class in yoga twice a week. As I said in my last blog, yoga is a very relaxing class and my teacher told me that everyone can do yoga no matter what type of body you have, so I enjoy the class and would highly recommend yoga for exercise and relaxation.
Well, that’s about it for a day in my college life at Penn State—a great opportunity for young adults, like me, to prepare for a career while enjoying the college experience.
What’s your schedule look like or, if you are not in college, what classes do you think might be interesting to you?