CREST program prepares students with disabilities for college and life success

Students in WNC’s Summer Crest program toured CGI facilities in August.

Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada Colege

In the weeks leading up to the start of fall semester at Western Nevada College, students were already learning about future employment possibilities from some of Northern Nevada’s most recognized and important employers.

Tesla, CGI and Starbucks were providing either virtual or in-person tours for students in WNC’s Disability and Support Services’ three-week Summer CREST program. CREST is a grant-funded educational program paid for with funds from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

The focus of the program is to prepare students with disabilities for success in college and beyond. Thirteen students are enrolled to continue with the CREST program throughout the school year as they work toward an associate degree or industry certification.

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“Our philosophy is to empower students to be successful in obtaining their educational goals,” said WNC DSS Director Susan Trist. “By providing necessary support, we help students to attain their academic, vocational and personal goals at WNC. Disability Support Services provides qualified students with disabilities equal access to higher education through academic support services, technology and advocacy in order to promote their independence, retention and graduation.”

DSS’s College Readiness Education for Students in Transition program is for transition-age students 16 to 22 with disabilities. It is a free program that introduces students to the college experience, giving them practical skills to succeed. The program provides students with personalized academic coaching, peer support systems, topic-based workshops, field trips, inspirational events and alumni gatherings.

CREST’s program goals for each of its students are life-changing, educational and career-oriented. In addition to providing the skills that encourage success in college and beyond, the program creates peer support, provides access to services and accommodations that help students with disabilities access their education.

Some of the accommodations that Trist considers for her students are extended time for testing, note-taking assistance, a distraction-reduced testing room, assistive technology, academic coaching, auxiliary aides and American Sign Language interpreters and captioning.

Adam Kirby of Tesla gives a presentation to WNC’s CREST students.

Besides learning more about important businesses such as Tesla, CGI and Starbucks, students in the summer program were able to become more comfortable attending WNC through “Introduction to the College Experience,” an accelerated class that was presented on Zoom this year and was led by Dr. Jennifer Verive.

“This course provides students with essential academic basics as they transition to college for the first time,” Trist said.

Ultimately, Trist said students in the CREST program will learn the skills that encourage college success and serve them in their future endeavors.

For more information about the CREST program, email susan.trist@wnc.edu or phone 775-445-4459.

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