“Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak. If you don’t ask for help, you won’t reach your destination.” Those are the words of wisdom from Deltilyn Bonal, a Millersville University student working toward her bachelor’s in social work. An avid photographer, Bonal is also a 2020 graduate of Integrated Studies at Millersville. She recently told her story to Millersville’s Council of Trustees.
Born in Liberia, Africa, Bonal came to the U.S. at age 9. She explained to the trustees that she has a knowledge of both world and national issues coupled with the desire to be an advocate for people with disabilities. She says one thing that really helped her at Millersville was when “one specific professor treated me like a student. Others made assumptions based on how I look. I wish more professors can see all the students – as students.”
Integrated Studies has 41 students enrolled this year, the most ever. There are 25 new students who started this fall. When the program started in 2014 there was only one student. As the program has grown, the mission has remained the same – provide access and support in an inclusive postsecondary education program for students with intellectual disability at Millersville University.
“It’s became an operation. We now have three full-time staff and we’re breaking down segregation across campus,” explains Dr. Thomas Neuville, coordinator of integrated studies and the PA Inclusive Education Consortium. “When you throw a small rock in a puddle, it makes tiny ripples. When you throw a big rock into a pond, the entire pond ripples. I’ve seen an amazing change at the University as it relates to integrated studies.”
Graduates from the program are more likely to get jobs. Nationally, only 17% of people with an intellectual disability are employed. That number skyrockets to 67% for people who graduate from post-secondary initiatives.
Students enrolled in integrated studies at Millersville become fully immersed in the campus through engaging in academics, career exploration and building relationships. They are enrolled as full-time non-degree seeking students and live in the residence halls.
And Bonal’s big dream? To become a renowned photographer!
Click here for more information on Integrated Studies.