The first class of students just graduated in May 2023.
Logan Lavery has big dreams.
“I’m happy disability kids like me can go to college,” she said.
Those dreams truly took shape on the St. Petersburg campus of USF.
“I have a lot of people who support me and believe in me, and my parents are why I am here,” she said.
Lavery’s mother helped her apply to college, and when they found out that she had been accepted, the family was thrilled.
“I’m so proud to achieve this,” she said.
Lavery, who graduated in May, was in the first class of students in a two-year program called UMatter that started in 2021.
The program provides young adults with intellectual learning disabilities the chance to take college classes that cater to their desired career path.
“I want to be a teacher because I want to make a difference in my life,” she said.
Lavery wants to teach fourth or fifth grade.
“I like history, so maybe history,” she said.
The program also gives students life and social skills, such as learning how to shop for groceries, all in an effort to help them live on their own.
“This has already helped me reach my goals,” she said.
“Students work on independent living skills academic access and engagement career development and employment campus and community engagement and overall self-determination,” said UMatter Program Director Jayme Joslyn, who is a mentor to Lavery.
Recently, Joslyn helped Lavery create a resume that helped her land a summer job as a camp counselor.
“I gave them a template and they put information in and our students go to the career services center here at USF and also receive assistance from them,” she said.
“This program has helped me reach my goals,” Lavery said.
Lavery has already been living on her own for a year. She says it was only possible because of the amount of support from mentors in the program.
“The one-on-one meetings,” she said.
It gave her a new perspective on what’s next.
I think about my future and what I’m going to do in ten years,” she said.
It’s a big dream that’s turning into reality for this USF student.
The program is entirely funded through grants and donations. The UMatter Program received a collective $2.1 million.
Now, Lavery is in the advanced UMatter Program, continuing to take courses that will help achieve her dream of being a teacher.