College Steps: an integral part of the AIC family

College Steps: an integral part of the AIC family

Danielle Corey, Staff Writer

College Steps, located within American International College’s Center for Student Engagement office, is an organization that provides hands-on and personalized college support for students with learning and social challenges.

There are 19 students and 32 peer mentors that provide support as they work towards attaining their individual goals.

College Steps promotes independent living skills, work experience as well as managing relationships.

College Steps was founded by a clinical psychologist and a special educator with a simple mission: to empower students living with learning and social challenges through structured post-secondary support working closely with high schools, colleges and families. College Steps emphasizes in peer-to-peer services that build confidence and success.

Chris Ryan, Program Coordinator of College Steps at AIC, spoke a bit about the program.

“The beauty of this program is taking into account each individual student and what their aspirations are, as well as the necessary support to accomplish those while they are here,” Ryan said. “The College Steps program is working successfully when students are able to attain their goals on a more independent level.”

Perhaps you have seen members of the College Steps program, either a student or a peer mentor, on campus. The College Steps is a key part of the campus at AIC.

“The program is supported by undergraduate and graduate AIC students who are sophomores and above with a 3.0 GPA or higher,” Ryan said. “They are hired and supervised by me, and are given training throughout the year to support students in every aspect of the program.”

Ryan, who is starting his fourth year in his position, talked about his passion as it relates to his role as the Program Coordinator for College Steps at the college.

“I have always had a passion for advising students in college and felt that my past experiences combined with that passion could best support this population of students,” Ryan said.

College Steps focuses on a model that is made up of four steps which address the unique challenges for students. They are as follows:

  1. Academic Enrichment, which is exploring the costumed academic supports and benefits of our model.
  2. Social Interaction, which is seeing how social activities apply to every element of a student’s success.
  3. Independent Living, which is finding the potential in living outside the home and growing into adulthood.
  4. Work Experience, which is learning the skills and get real world experience during and after college.

I personally have been a student in the College Steps program for two years now, and I think I have changed so much since my first day here. I can do homework on my own now and I feel more independent. Some days I do not need a mentor walking me to classes, I can just meet them there because I feel more confident about going by myself.

All of us 19 students are working to reach our goals so we can move up in our education and are working hard to live our lives independently in the future.