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Transition Pathways Peer Mentor Spotlight: Christina

  • Transition Pathways
Posted on November 20, 2023

As a freshman at Drexel University, Christina was passionate about volunteering and engaging with her community. Through the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, she found her first volunteer experience with an organization focused on supporting families at risk of incarceration. When COVID began and classes went remote, she wanted to do her part and actively searched for virtual volunteer opportunities with Lindy. That’s when she found the peer mentoring program with Project Career Launch.  

 

Project Career Launch is a program that prepares young adults with autism for work. The program, run by Transition Pathways of the AJ Drexel Autism Insitute, takes place entirely on Drexel’s campus. At least 12 students from the School District of Philadelphia are enrolled each year. Since she started, Christina has committed over 100 hours to being a peer mentor!

 

Drawing upon their experiences as Drexel students, peer mentors support our students with career exploration, job searching, improving interpersonal communication, interview practice, independent living skills, and navigating the campus and the community “It helps them to build relationships. It also helps them become comfortable in front of other individuals. It gives them space to make mistakes and really just be themselves. It doesn’t matter that they are neurodiverse. They may not feel like they are accepted in situations where they should be and so I think this opportunity really helps give them that space” Christina highlighted. 

 

For two years, Christina was paired with Shellie. Shellie wanted a job where she could help people, but like most young people, she was nervous about getting her first job! Christina supported Shellie by practicing communication and self-advocacy in the workplace. Shellie put all this practice into action during her internship as a concierge in a busy apartment building, where she greeted guests, gave them suggestions for things to do in the area, and addressed their needs. Through this experience, Shellie fine-tuned her customer service and hospitality skills - skills that she can apply to any industry!    

 

Through the internship and Christina’s support, Shellie found that she really enjoyed helping people and looked forward to using those skills in the next steps of her career. When reflecting on her relationship with Shellie, Christina said, “I really enjoyed connecting with Shellie because we had similar interests and she's so funny. She was able to connect with me on a personal level and I think that helped her with the program.”     

 

Christina’s experience as a peer mentor has inspired her to keep working with the neurodivergent community. “In general, in college, it's sometimes hard to find your place. I think something like this helps people like me find what they're passionate about. Drexel is a big city environment, having something so small in a place so big helped me find my place.” She wants to continue to create safe spaces where people can be themselves and find their place in the world.  After working as peer mentors, many Drexel University students have been inspired to continue working with people with disabilities, regardless of their career choices. In their time volunteering with Transition Pathways programs, peer mentors gain a deep understanding of disability, neurodiversity, and the value that autistic people bring to the workforce. We support peer mentors as they apply their experiences to the next phase of their careers. To become a peer mentor, please reach out to the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement

 

Transition Pathways provides experiential learning to students with autism and/or intellectual disabilities with a goal of sustainable, competitive employment in the community.

 

To learn more about our work and support us, click HERE.       

 

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