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N&N: Beach Club participant attends College of The Albemarle’s pilot education program

5-Dottie PACE 5Last fall, College of The Albemarle (COA) took a gamble on the belief that everyone should have a chance to get an education when they implemented a new program on their campus called the Pathways to an Accessible College Experience program, or PACE, which provides a one to two-year learning experience for college-aged students with intellectual disabilities.

Monarch Beach Club participant Dottie Patton started the pilot program last year at their Dare campus and is continuing with classes again this semester.

Students in PACE are required to complete classes that focus on self-advocacy and job-seeking skills that prepare them for life after college. The program allows students to experience classes in a college setting and eventually transition to the workforce in jobs of their own choosing.

Patton has already received certification in computer skills and music. This year, as the semester gets underway, Patton said she is excited to continue her classes in Health and Wellness, CPR, reading skills and computer education classes while also interning at the Dare County Health Department where she helps in the administrative office.

Patton’s favorite class so far has been CPR because she is leaning how to save people’s lives. But when she isn’t in class or interning, she also works six hours a week at Village Reality, where she answers the phone and makes copies and she also attends Monarch’s Beach Club, participating in craft making, exercise classes, like Zumba, and volunteers  for Meals on Wheels.

Volunteering “helps me go out into the community and serve food to people,” Patton said.  She says she loves meeting new people, interacting with them and making a difference. Attending school and being in her community is helping her gain new skills that will help her in the future. And the future is something she is always looking towards.

“My goal is to finish school and go out and live on my own,” she said.

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