Six Northern Essex Students Join ICE Program

Susan Martin, director of learning accommodations, Jillian Knox, I-WILL program coordinator, and Noemi Custodia-Lora, executive director of the Lawrence campus and community relations.

Six students are taking advantage of Northern Essex Community College’s “Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Program (ICE),” which gives students ages 18 to 21 with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder the opportunity to take college courses for credit or audit.

Using a $105,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education (EOE), the college is partnering with the Lawrence and Methuen public school districts. Six students started classes this semester which began Jan. 20. Noemi Custodia-Lora, the college’s executive director of the Lawrence campus, and Susan Martin, director of learning accommodations, led the planning process for the college.

“I think having intellectually disabled students on campus interacting directly with us will help us become more accepting of those we perceive as different. It will help us look at people through different lenses to discover their talents and abilities,” says Custodia-Lora. “It will make us more human.”

The program allows students to more easily associate with their non-disabled peers. As part of the initiative, students will participate in person-centered planning and college courses and may take part in internships, campus events, and more. A student in the program may, for example, enroll in a college-level art course or engage in a campus lecture.

Coordinators hope that the program will eventually expand to incorporate other local school districts, including North Andover, Andover, and Newburyport, within the next few years, officials said.

The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment initiative is being called I-WILL (for “I Will Independently Live my Life”). Similar programs are already housed at 13 other Massachusetts state colleges and universities.

For more information on the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment grant, contact Jillian Knox, I-WILL program coordinator/MA Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative, at (978) 556-3648 or by emailing [email protected]

One thought on “Six Northern Essex Students Join ICE Program

  1. “18 to 21 with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder the opportunity to take college courses for credit or audit.” –

    I really hope this grant covers the costs to go to college.

    Otherwise, these schools are outright evil and there is simply no dollar they will not chase as they prey on our most vulnerable. It’s bad enough that we are now past $1.3 trillion dollars in student loan debt in which these institutions of “higher learning” assume ZERO risk and ZERO accountability in graduate outcomes. This is during an era where the ROI on a college “education” becomes more worthless for students, yet more profitable for the end recipient of taxpayer backed, risk free monies.

    https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=3eN3