Kayla M. Sutter
A heartwarming video, featuring newly accepted ESU student Rachel Grace, has gone viral.
The 50-second clip shows Rachel Grace, a 20-year-old North Penn High School student who has Down syndrome, open her acceptance letter from East Stroudsburg University.
Grace reads the letter out loud, and happily exclaims, “I got in! I’m going to college!”
She has captured the attention, and hearts, of millions on social media. Thousands of congratulatory comments can be seen under articles sharing her experience.
Grace will attend ESU in the fall, and is enrolled in the Career, Independent Living & Learning Studies program.
The Career, Independent Living & Learning Studies (CILLS) is a program sponsored by East Stroudsburg University.
It is designed to provide individuals with intellectual disabilities with a learning experience in a campus environment. In this program, life and work skills are accelerated by daily encouragement in the life of a university, according to the program overview on ESU’s website.
“We believe that everyone has the right to enhance their learning and realize their personal potential through higher education. The CILLS program supports students with intellectual disabilities to have a high quality learning experience within a university setting to foster learning, establish friendships, build self confidence and work toward achieving their goals to work and live in an inclusive community,” explains ESU’s website.
“They go to class, they cheer on the Warriors, they go to the cafeteria, they wake up for that 8 a.m. Monday class,” College of Education Dean Terry Barry told Fox News.
Grace will live near campus with other students of the CILLS program, supervised by a house resident – usually an ESU student.
“We love the aspect of the independent living, living in a house with an ESU student mentor, it’s just the right amount of oversight and freedom,” said Deb Grace, according to an ESU press release.
According to the press release, the three-year CILLS program allows around eight participants with intellectual disabilities into the program each year. The program helps the participants into the ESU community, by encouraging them to join clubs and participate in activities along other ESU students. The participants simultaneously take courses that help them learn practical skills in independent living, such as money management, as well as job skills.
When asked about the attention Grace was receiving, she said, “It felt awesome and amazing,” according to an ESU press release
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