My Place Program Events
Each student is required to meet for a one-hour meeting with an assigned mentor, no matter what level of the program they are enrolled in. These mentors are either Kutztown University DSO/My Place employees or graduate students employed by the My Place Program while they complete their degree requirements. Each mentor has a history of working with students with disabilities and has been trained to best assist the students with the problems and struggles they bring to their one-on-one meetings. Though students are encouraged to come to their meetings with questions about homework, daily living, socializing, academics, or other factions of college life, mentors also have a wide array of resources available to help their mentees grow in the areas of executive function skills related to academics, career development, social skills, and independent college living to align with the program goals. Mentors also encourage students to better connect to campus by helping them find clubs and other campus-run activities that align with their interests and by assisting students in finding on- or off-campus employment if they desire to do so.
Students in both the residential and commuter levels of the My Place Program are encouraged to attend at least one recreational activity a week. These activities are designed to get students out of their dorm rooms and give them a space for stress relief. What happens at the activity is decided by the students that attend that day, but have included things like individual workouts in the campus gym, playing tennis or going for walks around campus when the weather is nice, playing pool or ping-pong, practicing meditative breathing exercises, or coloring/working on homework. Since this activity takes place in the campus rec center, students are always allowed to also complete their own personal work-out during the allotted time if they choose to do so.
Every night except Saturdays, group dinners take place in a noise-sensitive environment of the South Dining Hall. This allows students to eat in a space that they know is quieter and includes other students that they know through the program. Conversation is mostly facilitated by the students and can include anything from superhero movies to families to classes and other campus events. This proves to be a time when students can get to know others who share some of the same struggles and hardships in their everyday lives, as well as a safe space to discuss topics related to their shared diagnosis of autism.
Students at both the residential and commuter levels of the program are required to attend at least one structured study hall, which are held Sunday-Thursday evenings as well as during the day a few times throughout the week. These study halls allow students to work on projects and assignments in a space where a mentor will be available to ask questions if they get confused. They are held in a quiet classroom on the basement level of the library, though the COVID-19 closures added a Zoom aspect to the study halls, so students can log into Zoom during this time from any location, as well. Scheduled time for studying is one of the first recommendations made to students who struggle with time management. Students are also encouraged to use this time to make appointments for other academic services offered through Kutztown University, such as the University Writing Center and tutoring services.
Every Friday, the My Place Program facilitates a social activity that allows students another opportunity to meet and spend time with other students in the program. The limits of these activities are endless and can be anything from playing board games or studying to walking down Main Street in Kutztown to buy ice cream from Pop’s Malt shop or going to see a movie together. Every semester also includes a party that every student is encouraged to attend, usually for Halloween and before spring break, and includes coloring, candy, board games, and a movie agreed upon by the students in attendance.
Once a semester, staff from the My Place Program and the Career Development Center work together to hold a career-related conference, sharing information that helps move towards the program’s goal of attaining employment for each member at the end of their time at Kutztown. These events are traditionally held at the end of a break, with students returning early to attend. The conferences can cover a myriad of topics, but usually include lessons relating to resumes, “elevator pitches,” and interviewing.