November meeting of the Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance

The Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance (TN IHE Alliance) met in November to share program updates, to learn about postsecondary education-related research projects, and to hear more about upcoming advocacy opportunities.

Students enrolled the five inclusive higher education programs in Tennessee are well into the semester and are busy in integrated classes and internships. In Memphis, students in the TigerLIFE program are in internships with the recreational center, Holiday Inn, and the library. Externships include Marshall’s, Ronald McDonald House, and the Memphis Botanical Garden.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s FUTURE Program currently has 16 full-time and 2 part-time students. Eight new students have lead a movement on inclusion on campus outside of the classroom. Lipscomb University’s IDEAL Program reported six new internship sites including the Nashville Soccer Club, ABLE, and the TN Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Next Steps at Vanderbilt, which recently expanded to four years, has 8 students in the midst of the inaugural junior year. A focus on student driven activities including paid internships on and off campus and independent studies have been a program priority. Union EDGE shared student employment stories from Campus dining, the Union basketball team, and the safety and security department.

Research on parent perspectives, motivations of peer mentors, faculty attitudes, and family quality of life were discussed.
Reports from faculty also highlighted Masters theses being written on topics such as friendships and experiences of belonging of current students and alumni, examination of freshman orientation, and self-management strategies.

In terms of policy education and advocacy, program staff were encouraged to engage their students at TN Disability Day on the Hill (March 2019) and during the 2019 April 8-10 Federal Disability Policy Seminar in Washington.

The next TN IHE Alliance meeting will take place at Lipscomb University on February 1, 2019.