COLLEGE STATION — The Postsecondary Access and Training in Human Services (PATHS) program at Texas A&M University is honored to announce the 2018 graduates. This year, 18 young men and women successfully graduated from the PATHS certificate program. The PATHS program is an inclusive certificate program to prepare students with and without disabilities for a career as a Direct Support Professional, who will work with the elderly or people with disabilities in the community; as a Direct Support Para-Professional who will work with school districts; or as a Child Care Professional who will work with children.

Dr. Dalun Zhang, Director of the Center on Disability and Development welcomed everyone to the 2018 Graduation ceremony, while Ms. Tracy Glass, the PATHS Program Director presented the Director’s Address.

The Keynote Speaker was Mr. Philip Olivieri. Mr. Olivieri graduated from Texas A&M University in 2015 with a degree in Community Development and currently works as an Instructional Assistant for the PATHS program. He uses his personal experience with Direct Support Professionals to assist in the process of training PATHS students to become successful workers in their chosen field.

“Acting with all the Person-Centered Supports… it is very important. That is what allows me to be independent and do all of what I do. The fact that you are all qualified to bring that to whoever it is you work for and with next is amazing to me, and I want to thank you all for doing that.”

Ms. Tracy Glass described the Directors award as the most prestigious award that the program can provide a student and is given to the student who exemplified the Aggie Core values of respect, leadership, integrity, loyalty, excellence, and selfless service. This student represents well, not only themselves, but also the PATHS Program and Texas A&M University. Ms. Glass introduced the 2017 Director’s Award recipient, Miss Morgan Shiver who spoke about her journey since graduating from the PATHS Program.

Ms. Shiver spoke about the challenges and goals that she has faced since graduating. “The most important lesson that I learned in the PATHS program was, that you must not forget your goals. Be determined and don’t give up what you want.”

Ms. Shiver explained her goals and her determination to achieve those goals. She also said, “PATHS also helped me discover my voice. My voice allocates for things that improve my life. My voice also helps me meet new people and make new friends.”

While attending PATHS Ms. Shiver learned about her own disabilities which enabled her to understand her abilities. She reflected on how her abilities enable her to achieve her goals.

Ms. Shiver concluded by saying, “As PATHS graduates you should feel very proud, your experiences here have also changed you. While they may not realize it, they have also changed the people around you. Like me, this graduating class will join a group of ambassadors, and together we will advocate for those with disabilities.”

Ms. Glass, and Ms. Shiver, presented the 2018 Director’s award to Miss Myaa Valentine.

Miss Myaa Valentine thanked everyone and admitted that she was scared when she started the program. But she was inspired after reading about another graduate who, like her, had a traumatic brain injury.

Ms. Valentine reflected on her practicum at Broadmoor Place and working with an elderly man and how the questions she asked him annoyed him. She realized even she is often bothered by questions that are used to define who she is and her abilities.

“Don’t let anyone question you about your abilities as a person. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to. And remember questions don’t define who you are – you define who you are.”

Ms. Valentine tearfully thanked her grandmother, Sheila Valentine, uncle Hidasa and son, Jeremiah for their help, patience and support while she was in the PATHS Program.

Ms. Glass explained how the definition of a Leader according to Merriam-Webster is “someone who guides other people or influences what other people do.” According to businessdictionary.com, “Leadership involves establishing a clear vision, sharing that vision with others, providing the information, knowledge and methods to realize that vision, and coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members and stakeholders. A leader steps up in times of crisis, and is able to think and act creatively in difficult situations. Ms. Glass introduced the 2017 Leadership Award winner, Ms. Callie Simon.

Ms. Simon shared her experiences while at PATHS and since graduation last year she has become a certified para-professional and will graduate from Lonestar College with her Associates degree in teaching this weekend.

“I’m sharing this with you to show you that this is not the end, this is only the beginning. If you use what you learn here and continue to work hard, I have no doubt that you will have a bright future ahead of you.”

Ms. Glass, “This program is not easy. This year as in years before, has seen its share of crises, drama, and difficult situations. The student who persevered and showed evidence of supporting his classmates through the challenges of the past year and who is well-deserving of the 2018 Leadership Award is Adil Haq.”

Mr. Adil Haq chronicled his experiences from Bridge to Career through the PATHS Program.

“I wanted to be someone who stood out in the PATHS Program to be recognized as an ordinary person who accomplished many different things.”

He realized he was not spending time with his classmates. So he took the time to reach out to others and to build friendships. He spoke about how much they’ve accomplish and how their futures are just beginning.

Ms. Glass also presented the Partner of the Year Award to Ms. Kathryne Montgomery, Life Enrichment Coordinator of Broadmoor Place. The Partner of the Year award is given to an organization that has partnered with the PATHS Program to provide hands on learning opportunities for students. This award is present to the partner who has gone the extra mile to ensure students in the program are provided a meaningful learning experience during their practicum.

This year the PATHS Program presented certificates to 18 graduates:

  • Dominique Dwayne Armbruster
  • Mariyah D’Nae Currier
  • Marcus Anthony Compis
  • Maria Fernanda Delgado Ramos
  • Terence Stuart Elder
  • Rileigh Elledge-Turner
  • Katelyn Madisyn Ennis
  • Jessica Reneé Gravley
  • Adil Bin Ijaz Haq
  • Ashley Marie Henderson
  • Christopher Justin Otis Keys
  • Amna Masroor
  • Mary Katherine Matamoros
  • Santiago Molina
  • Madison Anne Stahlheber
  • Emilian Everett Stetz
  • Jahmai Sinise Valentine
  • Cara Renee Weber

The closing remarks were presented by Ms. Glass, who asked the graduates to remember their journey through the PATHS program.

What you went through in the program, is a small taste of what you will experience in life. But always keep in mind where you started and how you ended your journey through PATHS and know that it will be the same in life and that no matter what happens in life, you will prevail because you are now well-equipped. You are Aggies.

Tracy Glass

PATHS Program Director

The PATHS Program has had national recognition as well as international recognition as an exemplary program.

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 visit the PATHS website.

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