The University of Massachusetts Boston holds a partnership with local high schools to allow students with intellectual disabilities and autism to become involved in a complete college experience. The program is called the Mass Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative, and it is held through UMass Boston’s Institute of Community Inclusion. The Institute of Community Inclusion is a research and training institute that promotes the full inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of society.
There are currently six students in the program at UMass Boston, and each student comes from a high school in the Boston area. The local high schools in partnership with the UMass Boston MAICEI program are Boston Collegiate, Revere High School, Brooke Charter Schools, Somerville High School, Winthrop High School, and Malden High School. All of the students in the MAICEI program are enrolled in an on-campus course that meets two days a week, and they are each paired with a peer mentor who is a UMass Boston undergraduate student.
Eligibility for students to join the program is determined through the MAICEI Eligibility Requirements; students need to be eligible for Special Education services through their school district.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, “students with intellectual disabilities who are eligible for the program must be between the ages of 18 to 22, have not passed the MCAS, and are eligible for special education services as documented through an Individualized Education Program.” Other eligible students include those who are “20 to 21, have passed MCAS, but are still eligible for special education with an Individualized Education Program because of significant functional disabilities, transition needs, etc.”
Ashley Luce is the MAICEI Program Coordinator at UMass Boston. She initially worked as the MAICEI Program Coordinator at Framingham State University, but she came to UMass Boston when she learned there was an open position for a Program Coordinator here. The Mass Media talked with her about her plans for MAICEI at UMass Boston, and what her experience here has been like so far.
Question: What are some plans/hopes that you have for MAICEI?
Answer: I hope that the program continues to grow! I want to get more students, partnerships and opportunities on campus. Bridgewater State University has a program that can have up to 30 students enrolled at a time, so I would say that there is definitely potential in this area to grow and be that large. That would be great because then we could have more of a presence and more connections to students on campus.
Q: What’s been your favorite part about being the Program Coordinator for MAICEI?
A: I would say getting to know the students, the school districts and the peer mentors at UMass Boston; it’s been great to build the community that we’ve started here at UMass Boston.
Q: What is something you want the UMass Boston community to know about MAICEI?
A: We are here! We have a lot of students who are excited to be on campus, and the more that we are able to connect to the campus community, then the more exciting it is for everybody.
The Mass Media also had the opportunity to talk with one of the students enrolled in the MAICEI program. Tatiana is a 21-year-old MAICEI student. She has been a part of the program since September; she got involved in MAICEI after her mother heard about the program through her high school and advocated for Tatiana to be a part of it. She was very excited to talk with the Mass Media about her experience so far in the program.
Question: What has been your favorite part of the program?
Answer: My favorite part has been to be with my peer mentors and to be with my friends from the program. I also like taking college classes and doing independent stuff.
Q: What is something you’ve learned from being a part of the MAICEI program?
A: Something that I’ve learned is to be independent and try new things, like go to games—one of our peer mentors is an athlete, and we went to one of his games to support him.
Q: How has MAICEI helped you grow as a student?
A: MAICEI has helped me develop more independent skills, through being in college and going places by myself.
The students involved in the program have acknowledged the positive impact that the program has had on the students, and so have their high schools.
Tatiana’s paraprofessional, who accompanies her to UMass Boston, talked about how much Tatiana has grown independently; she has become more confident in navigating the campus, taking her own notes in class, and paying attention to the lectures. Some of the high schools report that their MAICEI students are becoming more effective in communication and making friends.
For UMass Boston students looking to learn more or get involved with the MAICEI program, please email Ashley Luce at firstname.lastname@example.org.