Meet Bob Hoyt, College Navigator’s first graduate! While receiving College Navigator services, he was able to meet his academic goals, connect with on campus services, and become more confident in himself. In spring 2020, Bob graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a B.A. in Liberal Arts with Art History and Philosophy concentration. Nationally, the drop out rate for people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is an alarming 59%, Bob's success raises the bar for not only what society expects of people with disabilities, but what people with disabilities can expect of themselves.
Bob says: I was first introduced to Easterseals when they assessed what technology and other supports would help me as I prepared for college. That assessment took place when I was a senior in high school. When I received the devices, my Easterseals contact made sure I fully understood how to use them. When I arrived at UMass Lowell, I was introduced to Morgan, an Easterseals coordinator, and the Easterseals College Navigtor, who helped me assess what academic supports I might need to be successful.
We focused on my schedule, time management, and discussing stress. At our weekly meetings, we reviewed my classwork schedule, and made any changes in organizing the upcoming week to be better prepared. When necessary, I received assistance in contacting my professors either directly or through email of questions or clarifications of my work. These sessions helped me stay on track to be successful not only in the classroom, but also in my full college experience. I gained confidence in my abilities through the support and guidance of Morgan and the Easterseals program. After receiving services, Bob made the Dean’s list for three consecutive semesters and graduated with Honors (Magna Cum Laude).
Morgan Waite points out; "Many college professors are not trained and/or don't have direct experience working with people with ASD. People with ASD struggle with soft variables in the college experience. For instance, a communication style can can come across as rude or imply a lack of academic aptitude, when in reality it's a classic 'lost in translation' dynamic. Bob and I would role-play social scenarios. Or, we'd talk through confusing concepts like email etiquette with advisors; all of which Bob became very skilled at over time. These challenges are related to soft variables and ultimately have nothing do with a person's intellectual/academic aptitude.”
Bob Says: At the time of my graduation, the program even helped me connect with resources that would support me after college to continue to be successful. My goals for my future, following my graduation, would always incorporate my love of graphic and visual arts. My degree has fully prepared me to be successful. As a liberal arts major, I learned to appreciate art in a variety of forms which I can apply to many different jobs. My degree gave me a better understanding of art as well as how to adapt myself to the many changes that can happen in a work career. The College Navigator program added to the tools in my life toolbox that I need.
I would recommend the Easterseals program to any student with disabilities without reservation. It was a great opportunity that I was fortunate to learn about.