A Year of BUILDing.

in Culture Arts & Lifestyle by

After completing the first year of Bethel’s brand new BUILD program, students prepare for life back home.

Christine Ramstad | Features Editor

Scott Streble | Photographer

Bethel students gather in a classroom and share their plans for the summer.  They discuss their jobs, talk about their hometowns, family, friends and encourage each other when the conversation turns to fears. They worry about finals, missing their roommates and yet, they are ready for a break from classes. They make plans to see each other this summer and decide who’s bringing what to the end of the year grill-out. They laugh at favorite memories from the year and hope for what they will achieve when they return to campus next fall.

21110125692_18e0f65195_oWith the 2015-2016 school year coming to a close, Bethel’s BUILD students reflect on the year they began to write a new chapter in Bethel history. These 11 students are the first in the BUILD program– a two-year post-secondary program that provides a college education and experience to students with intellectual disabilities.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to work and spending more time at home with my family,” BUILD student Maddie Knoll said.

Next year, BUILD students will transition to the second-year of the program and graduate in May, 2017. They will serve as mentors to the incoming first-year students and live together independently, without their student housing mentors they lived with during the first year of the program.

“It’ll be a big change but they’ll be right down the hall,” Sam Kohs said. “It’ll be a good time, no matter what,” Ben Boatman chimed in. Both program participants, they lived in Lissner Hall this year with two other BUILD students and two student housing mentors.

The BUILD program cultivates independent living by teaching skills such as cooking, organization, laundry and time management. The program prepares students to be independent and find meaningful employment after college.

This year, each student worked an on-campus internship (or two or three) in an area that interests them.  20683197503_9490fd656f_o

“My favorite thing is having a really good internship,” Knoll said. “It’s something I love and I’m passionate about.” Knoll served as an intern in the Child Development Center.

Boatman interns with the Admissions office by guiding campus tours and also interns in Benson Great Hall as an Usher.  “Ushering is really fun because you get to meet people at the programs,” Boatman said, noting his relationship with Dr. Washington.  

Annika Hovey interns with Campus Ministries, filming chapel services and editing the videos for Vimeo and marketing. Other internships this year included working with Sodexo, the library, Bethel Men’s Hockey Team and Bethel Softball.

This year, BUILD students have taken a variety of classes ranging from core curriculum to electives. Favorite classes include soccer, Bible, independent living and even Rita Ikeri’s favorite– math. The students joked about Ikeri taking the math workbook home for the summer, but are grateful for her ability to tutor them and help with math homework.

“Jobs and Employment [class] is my favorite because it helps us with our resumes and helps us get jobs,” Maggie Erickson said.

Most of the students will be working jobs this summer– a chance to put their learning to work. Time management is perhaps the most significant challenge the students will face away from the program.

“I’m excited to be home but I don’t want to be bored,” Boatman said. “If we can’t find anything to do and we’re bored then we go to the jar,” Kohs explained.

“The jar is all about time management. You’ve got choices you can make.  We don’t want your mom or dad to have to continue to schedule things for you.  We want you to be independent and make choices about what you want to do,” Dawn Allen, BUILD Program Director, said. The group made plans to fill a jar with ideas of things they enjoying doing to bring home for the summer months.

Next year, BUILD students will be working off-campus internships. “I’m excited for experiencing a new roommate and getting to live without the mentors– being more independent and getting to experience new internships,” Knoll said.

On May 1, incoming BUILD students arrived on campus for an overnight visit.

“You get to try something you’ve never tried before. I got to stay in a dorm room for the first time and spend a night here. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to do that,” Jessica, a prospective student, said.

“I want to have my own apartment and I’m getting ready for it,” Erikson said.

Allen gives the BUILD students homework for the summer: Go home and show your parents how much you can do on your own.

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