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COLLEGE STATION — The Postsecondary Access and Training in Human Services (PATHS) program at Texas A&M University is honored to announce the 2015 graduates. This year, 18 young men and women successfully graduated from the PATHS certificate program. Family and friends attended the fourth graduating PATHS class since the certificate program was developed in 2010 at the Center on Disability and Development (CDD) at Texas A&M University. The PATHS program is an inclusive certificate program to prepare students with and without disabilities for a career as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) who will work with the elderly or people with disabilities in the community. Students with developmental disabilities are encouraged to apply for the Bridge to Career program, which provides preparation for the PATHS program.

The Parent Alumni speaker was Adrienne Walsh, and her daughter, Havilah, spoke about where they are now, nearly one year since graduation. Adrienne quoted The Lion, the Witch, and Wardrobe stating that, “Some journeys take us far from home, some adventures lead us to our destiny…” This program was a dream come true. Giving her daughter increased independence and a voice for those with disabilities. After graduation she had to go back into the “real” world and find a job. She spoke about being a parent and understanding the changes her daughters new independence has brought about.

Havilah spoke about completing the PATHS program and what she is doing after graduation. She is working and volunteering at the Conroe YMCA where she enjoys working with children and helping them with their homework. She enjoys her work and the people she works with are like family. She ended her speech by saying, “If I can do it… you can do it, too!

The Commencement Speaker was Lucinda Thelen a retired teacher who worked in special education and is a very proud mom of a son with autism. She spoke about setting goals and becoming more independent and provided words of encouragement. She ended her speech with a quoted from Winnie the Pooh, “Promise me you’ll always remember that you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Meagan Sumbera, the PATHS Program Coordinator, presented The Director’s award to Shelbi Davenport, a student who excelled in every aspect of the program. She mentioned how the students started off as strangers – small, scared individual students – who stand at graduation as one large confident team ready to go and start the next chapter in their lives. The PATHS program prepared them for this next chapter.

“No matter where we go now or what we end up doing for life, this program has played a very important part in preparing us for the future.”

Christina Gushanas, the PATHS Student Development Coordinator, presented Riley Lynn Biffle the 2015 PATHS Leadership Award. Riley will be moving to Beaumont to work at a recreational educational center and assisting individuals with special needs.

The PATHS Class of 2015 are Riley Lynn Biffle, Michael Christian Clarida, Shelbi Davenport, Angelia Fattorini, Brittany Grimes, Masumi Goelhke, Robert Harmon, Jonathan David Hickman, Andrew Bao-Thack Hoang, Kaitlin Johnston, Kristina Diane Krawczynski, Spencer Reed Langseth, Maria Guadalupe Martinez, Matthew Mireles, Hollie Angel Moore, Keariel Reginae Scott, Isaac Williams and Darius Matthew Young.

The Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University supports PATHS, Bridge to Career, and the Academy for Direct Support Professionals as well as a number of projects and programs that help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families. As a federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), the CDD is part of a national network of similar centers across the country.

For more information about the Center for Disability and Development and to learn more about this program and other programs and opportunities visit the CDD website at