Like any first-year college student, Karley Hogarth was both nervous and scared about starting studies but she was also excited to have a chance to reinvent herself in a new environment. More than two years later, Hogarth says she is a new person.Her remarkable transformation came about through Georgian College’s Community Integration through Co-operative Education (CICE) program.”College changed my outlook on what life was really about,” she says. “Back in high school I didn’t think life was worth it because the bullying was so bad. I got here and met a lot of people who had gone through things like me and it boosted my self-esteem. They were all older than me and they all knew what it was like – I looked to them for support.”
After successfully completing the CICE program, Karley is now enrolled in Georgian’s Office Administration – General program.
“Through CICE I learned that I can do things even though I thought I couldn’t,” Karley says. “With the learning facilitators around me, supporting me and telling me not to give up, I saw that it is not impossible, that I can do it.”
A relatively new program at Georgian College’s Barrie Campus, CICE is a two-year post-secondary certificate program for students with cognitive disabilities or learning challenges who require academic accommodations and modifications for success.
Many students who have traditionally been unable to access postsecondary education can now experience college through the CICE program. The CICE staff team offers tutoring support and individualized academic accommodations and modifications to its learners. CICE students take a variety of college courses, develop essential employability skills, gain work experience through field placements and earn a college certificate. After graduation, they may embark on their career or, like Karley, continue with academic study.
One of the keys to student success is that CICE students are integrated and participate fully in Georgian courses. Learning facilitators work with students to help them get organized, prioritize their assignments, learn how to study and, in general, succeed at college, says program co-ordinator Renée Ferguson.
The coursework in CICE students’ integrated courses is tailored to their learning strengths, but that doesn’t mean that the work isn’t challenging. CICE students need to work hard, just like any other Georgian College student, in order to succeed. The guidance from skilled learning facilitators – and the students’ own drive to succeed – creates real results.
Many students blossom when provided with the skills and the opportunities to accomplish things on their own, says Ferguson. In fact, some discover that they have been done a disservice in the past by family members or teachers trying to make things too easy for them. CICE expects them to work as hard as any other student.
The three CICE field placement opportunities in the program give students valuable experience and opportunities for personal growth.
“My placements helped me to be more confident about myself and to learn more about what work is like,” said Karley. “I learned how to be more professional and organized, and to be on time.”
Her co-op placements included jobs at Codrington Public School, where she says she learned patience through working with children and at the Georgian College Barrie Campus library, where organization was essential. She also worked with the Red Cross in Barrie, where she was able to develop customer service skills.
Overall, Karley says that self-confidence is the biggest benefit she gained through CICE.
“My biggest barrier was to open myself up and meet new people. And the CICE learning facilitators showed me that anything is possible. They show you a way that you never thought you would be shown and that you have talents, opportunities and strengths.”
CICE classes begin each fall at the Barrie Campus. After applying through the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS), prospective students attend a mandatory individual program admissions interview that assesses their suitability for CICE. Applicants must be at least 19 years of age or have an OSSD or OSSC.