In February 2019, the Postsecondary Access and Training in Human Services (PATHS) Program at Texas A&M University learned that the Texas A&M University Express Bus was being discontinued. This bus ran directly from the A&M campus to the Brazos Transit District (BTD) Transfer Station. Many of the PATHS students relied upon this bus route to get to their practicum job placements. PATHS students used their self-advocacy skills to write letters to the Brazos Transit District to voice their concerns about the change and to request a public hearing. Brazos Transit District responded by holding a public hearing.
PATHS Practicum Coordinator, Fiona Allen, and PATHS student, Ellie Hefner, attended the public hearing on behalf of the PATHS Program and the Texas A&M Community to advocate for keeping the TAMU Express Route. Both Fiona and Ellie spoke at the public hearing about the importance of the route for the PATHS students as well as supporting the community. Unfortunately, their efforts were not successful and the route has been discontinued; however, the Brazos Transit District commented that the PATHS students’ letters made a positive impact and the Brazos Transit District took their feedback into consideration while making their decision.
The PATHS Certificate Program at Texas A&M University works in collaboration with the Institute on Person-Centered Practices and Brazos Valley Center for Independent Living. The Institute is a partnership between the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University and the Center on Disability Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
The PATHS Certificate Program prepares individuals for jobs as Direct Support Professionals and Child Care Professionals. Students attend a 4-week summer program called Bridge to Career (B2C) as a prerequisite to the PATHS Program. During this time they live in on-campus dorms and learn to navigate campus and the Bryan-College Station community using the A&M Bus system and the Brazos Transit District bus system. Upon completion of the summer program, students will relocate to off-campus housing and begin the fall semester of required classroom instruction and coursework. In the spring semester, students are placed in supervised practicum positions in the community where they work on-site learning hands-on skills to prepare them for their career. For these practicum experiences, the students rely on the bus systems for transportation to and from work.
This program teaches students the skills they need to lead successful independent lives in the community. With the support of the community they are leading productive lives and contributing to the community in many ways.