Thirteen Bridgewater State University students, members of what’s commonly referred to as the ICE Program, were congratulated by Gov. Deval Patrick and other officials at a Friday morning ceremony. The event marked the completion of the academic year by the program’s participants.
“We are proud to have them as part of our BSU community,” said Mary Price, director for university’s Center for Pre-K-12 Educational Outreach, in her opening remarks.
The state-funded Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program offers public high school students, aged 18-22, with cognitive difficulties the opportunity to participate in inclusive college courses (credit or non-credit) to increase their school and work success.
Joining Gov. Patrick and BSU President Dana Mohler-Faria on the dais was state Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. Also in attendance was Richard M. Freeland, commissioner of higher education, state Sen. Marc Pacheco and other lawmakers and state officials. Representatives from participating school districts in the program – Brockton, Carver, Easton, Marshfield, Old Rochester Regional and Weymouth – were also in attendance.
BSU’s involvement in the ICE Program began in 2011 with 17 students. President Mohler-Faria announced that the university planned to institute a residential component of the program and increase the number of participants. The governor, meanwhile, confirmed that the program, now active on 10 campuses across the commonwealth, would see expansions next year in both funding and reach.
Many of those who addressed the capacity crowd in the Rondileau Campus Center ballroom told the ICE students that they gave as much as they received, including President Mohler-Faria.
“I know this means a lot to you,” he said. “You need to know how much this means to us.”
The president added that the ICE program meshed perfectly with BSU’s mission, which is steeped in the idea of social justice.
“We need to think about how we serve the entire commonwealth,” he said. “We are here to create opportunity and expand that opportunity.”
Seven hundred students across the state have participated in the ICE Program in the seven years since its inception. Participation in such programs roughly doubles the chance of gaining meaningful employment, to 42 percent, for those with cognitive difficulties.
This moved Gov. Patrick to remind the students they can indeed succeed with the right preparation and perseverance.
“You can hope for something more and reach for it,” he said.
The students honored at the ceremony were: from Brockton, Christian Crooker, Meredith Goodwin, Nikko Tolman and Amy DeAndrade; from Marshfield, Scott McFarland and James Sperguiro; from Easton, Christopher Gammons, Erin Maloney and Kevin Figeoria; from Carver, Paige Lawson and Shelby Richardi; from Pembroke, Stephen Galanzi and Wendy Griffin; as well as Robert Muse from Old Rochester Regional High School, and Greg Walsh from Weymouth.
Read a previous story about the ICE Program. (Photo by student Brian Zayas, story by John Winters, video by TVS)