The new program is opening the door to a college education for students who used to only dream of becoming Aggies.

By Meghan Overdeep
July 19, 2019

Sadly, many students with intellectual and developmental disabilities are never given the opportunity to fulfill their dream of going to college. But thanks to a groundbreaking new program, Texas A&M is finally making that dream a reality.

This fall, Texas A&M is launching Aggie ACHIEVE (Academic Courses in Higher Inclusive Education and Vocational Experiences), Texas’ first inclusive, four-year postsecondary education program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to “expand their interests and prepare them for employment.”

According to the university, members will be paired with Aggie ACHIEVEmates, current students who will help facilitate inclusion in the campus community. Though Aggie ACHIEVE students won’t technically earn a degree from Texas A&M, they will graduate with a certificate that acknowledges their successful completion of the program.

“This is not meant to be a place to come get the college experience and then go back to what you were doing before,” Dr. Carly Gilson, the special education professor who spearheaded the program, explained in a news release. “The intention of this program is to provide a rigorous education, academics and employment experience that will prepare these young adults to go out and work in the community in a job they are interested in that matches their strengths,” said Gilson.

Next year’s class includes four students from across Texas. They will live on campus amongst their 60,000 fellow Aggies, participate in classes, serve in clubs and organizations, and more.

One such student, 27-year-old Courtney Osburn, told WFAA that when she begins her freshman year at Texas A&M in the fall, she will finally be realizing her dream to keep her Aggie family tradition alive.

"I hate when people say I can't do something," Osburn said. "In my gut, I knew college was right for me. I'm ready to find out who I'm meant to be in life."

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