Written by Addie Morton
As a FUTURE student, Landen Greene thoroughly enjoyed his internship in the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center and being around student–athletes, so much so that he asked if he could stay on after graduation.
“They liked me, so when I graduated I asked if I could keep working,” Greene said. “They said yes. So now I get to work in the nutrition station.”
Greene now helps manage the nutrition station in the Thornton Center. He oversees the new space, keeps track of inventory, and is responsible for ensuring people follow the process for taking snacks and drinks. It’s a job that may not have been possible without the experience he gained in the FUTURE Postsecondary Education program in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling.
FUTURE helps young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities make a successful transition from high school to adult life and increase their employability.
Students take part in an internship each semester to gain transferable skills, references, and work experience to add to their resume. During the two- to three-year program, students also take classes on campus and join student organizations.
Students audit regular courses and take specially designed courses in career and life planning, digital literacy, and life skills. Audited courses give FUTURE students the chance to attend and participate in an undergraduate college course with their peers on topics they find interesting or useful. FUTURE students participate fully in these courses including completing homework, assignments, projects, and exams.
The program, which results in a vocational certificate, is part of a movement to start and grow inclusive postsecondary academic programs in colleges and universities across the country. These programs provide growth in not only vocational skills but also academic, social, emotional/behavioral, and independent living skills. With the skills and confidence gained from FUTURE, students walk away ready for successful adulthood.
Greene’s experience is a good example of the impact the program can have on students.
“I like coming to work every day. It’s very enjoyable. It’s fun to be around the student–athletes. I’ve made a lot of new friends,” he said.
So very proud of my alma mater for this program and the leadership UTK has shown in this area!