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QCC Partnership with Summit Offers Housing and More for Neurodivergent Students

January 2023
  • QCC student and Summit Campus resident Lauren Young
    QCC student and Summit Campus resident Lauren Young

Like many freshmen, when Lauren Young enrolled at QCC she wasn’t sure about her professional goals but knew she wanted to start her higher education journey. Lauren is a resident at Summit Campus, a residential community for local college students with autism and other related diagnoses and like all residents there, identifies as neurodivergent. The new experience of starting college was anxiety-inducing, but Lauren found QCC to be a supportive environment and has embraced the challenge to become a successful student.

Living away from home for the first time, coupled with adjusting to college-level coursework, required the Summit Campus team to develop a strategic and intentional approach to Lauren’s programming. QCC's Student Accessibility Services also provided meaningful guidance and facilitation in order to help Lauren access QCC’s resources, the writing and math centers in particular.

"The math and English tutoring helped a lot. In English, I was expecting a B or even a C but I ended up being surprised with an A," said Lauren.

After getting comfortable with college life, Lauren could focus on exploring her academic and professional interests. It became clear that she was a visual and kinesthetic learner, with an affinity for cooking.

"In 2020, my mother started asking me to help with the cooking and I said, 'Absolutely!' This created a spark of inspiration," Lauren said. "(Professor of Hospitality and Recreation Management) Pat Hutchinson and (HRM Program Food Service Lab Site Supervisor) Matt Sullivan have been really helpful. They are so understanding if I need more time or accommodations. I also loved being in a commercial kitchen for the first time. I worked hard my first year, but now that I'm into something I'm passionate about, the hard work is just part of my routine."

Encouraged by Summit and her SAS coordinator, Lauren has fully embraced life at QCC. She works out at the college's fitness center and joined the Gaming Club where she can meet with other people who enjoy one of her favorite video games, Pokemon Violet. Lauren also mentioned that the size of the campus is perfect when you don't have a car, and while it was scary at first, she now uses the WRTA bus system to get around.

"Student Accessibility Services at QCC has a history and tradition of partnering with agencies throughout Central Massachusetts, and our partnership with Summit Campus is our newest collaboration. Summit Campus provides an experience for community college students that is unique to this region – a living environment with their peers where they can learn and be challenged. We are fortunate to have Summit Campus close by. I hope the opportunity for students with autism to attend college and be independent, while key support is accessible when needed, will grow across the state. Summit Campus is a huge win for these students, QCC and the city," said Director of Student Accessibility Services Kristie Proctor

"Summit is phenomenal and so is QCC," Lauren said, adding, "I've seen so much diversity here and everyone is really supportive. If something isn't working for you, you can change it!"

 "Lauren is a true Summit Campus and QCC success story. She exemplifies our core belief that with the right supports, individuals can not only achieve their goals but exceed expectations. We are so proud of Lauren," commented Summit Campus Director of Residence Life Nikki Koppel.

Lauren is on track to receive her certificate this May. She said she would like to continue going to school for more credentials or possibly jump right into employment so she can prepare to live on her own. 

For more information on Summit Campus, contact Nikki Koppel at nkoppel [at]