Academy students highlight program success

KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 23, 2017

Support by state agency provides new opportunities

GVRA visit
Provost Ken Harmon speaks during a visit by Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Executive Director Sean Casey to the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth.

By the numbers, students in the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth at Kennesaw State University are an impressive bunch, and they recently shared their story with the new executive director of the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA).

“You are leading the life I pray my children have,” said GVRA Executive Director Sean Casey. “I hope they follow in your footsteps.”

The goal of the GVRA is to help people with disabilities become fully productive members of society by achieving independence and meaningful employment. The agency provides nearly $1 million in money and support to the Academy annually.

“We couldn’t do what we do without GVRA,” said Academy Executive Director Ibrahim Elsawy. “GVRA helps with scholarships for our students, pays the salaries of two transition teachers and we have a dedicated VR counselor, among many other things. Their support is vital to the success of our students.”

The Academy began with just three students in the fall of 2009, and today boasts 41 students and two certificate programs: the Academic, Social and Career Enrichment (ASCE) program; and the Advanced Leadership and Career Development (ALCD) program. The Academy, which was the first of its kind in Georgia, offers a fully inclusive college experience to students with different intellectual or developmental abilities.

There are now five similar programs across the state.

“The Academy is inclusive in every way, and not just with the students, but with other universities,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ken Harmon. “We’re like evangelicals out there. We didn’t say this is ours and we don’t want anyone else to have it. We want everyone to have it.”

According to the Academy:

· 87 percent of graduates are employed or pursuing higher education

· Academy students spend 350 hours a week working in internships

· 78 percent of students live on campus

· Taxpayers save $3,000 a month when a person with disabilities is gainfully employed and not receiving government assistance

“I’m truly very, very proud of all of you, and you should be proud of all you’re accomplishing,” Casey told the students. “It’s clear to me, very clear, this program is very successful. I’m confident the partnership we have will continue to grow and get larger and larger and larger.”

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit