“Living away from home has been the biggest challenge since I started and it’s pushed me out of my comfort zone,” said Southwest Center for Higher Independence (SCHI) student Rebecca Hicks recently.
Teaching young adults with disabilities the life and vocational skills to help them reach their personal level of independence, SCHI has helped Rebecca realize the only real way to achieve independence is pushing herself to learn new skills.
“I grew up in Kingwood, Texas, and I was really close to my mom, so my first month here was tough,” she said. “I’ve been here for a while now and I really am beginning to appreciate my new independence.”
Right out of high school, Rebecca was determined to try college despite her earlier borderline intellectual functioning (BIF) diagnosis. She found herself having to retake courses and soon came to the realization she would need to try something different.
“My DARS counselor recommended I apply to SCHI,” she said. “At first, I was really scared about joining the program but my mom encouraged me.”
After her first day on campus Rebecca was relieved to find the staff and students made her feel right at home, and her confidence grew.
Wanting to soak in everything, she found herself with responsibilities she had never had before, including working contract jobs at the SCHI work training center (WTC).
“I’d never had a job before,” she said happily. “The WTC teaches me discipline and behavior expected at a job, and how to earn my own money.”
Rebecca was also among the few who jumped at an opportunity to volunteer with CIMA Hospice twice a week, offering companionship to those who need love and care.
“Volunteering with CIMA has been a great experience. I’ve always gotten along with older people, so when I go twice a week to talk with patients or play board games, I enjoy it very much,” she said, adding humbly, “It makes me feel good because I know I’m making a difference in their lives.”
Every day on campus, Rebecca is acquiring skills that have visibly increased her confidence as well as her independence. From on-the-job training to learning how to budget and pay bills, it’s clear she will be ready to fly on her own when her graduation comes around in January next year.
“They’re getting me ready for the real world and I definitely don’t want to go back to relying on other people to help me,” she said firmly. “I want to get a job, get my own apartment and make myself proud of the person they’ve transformed me into — an independent woman.”