Starting this fall, students with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the opportunity to earn a certificate in not one, but two different areas through the OASIS Program at Mercyhurst University – The North East Campus.
The OASIS Program (Opportunities and Advancement for Students with Intellectual Disabilities for Self-determination) now offers a certificate in hospitality in addition to the existing culinary certificate.
“We’re so excited to be offering this new opportunity and can’t wait to get started,” said Sara Kitchen, OASIS program facilitator. “With such a small percentage of adults with disabilities having the chance to learn skills and take classes in a college setting, we are thrilled to be providing that opportunity.”
OASIS, a one-year, proficiency-based certificate program, was founded in 2008 to provide students with intellectual and developmental disabilities age 18 and older the opportunity to take cooking and baking courses alongside North East students in an effort to provide vocational training to help facilitate gainful employment. The unique program gives students with disabilities the opportunity to experience college while accessing materials and instruction that enable them to learn job skills as well as connect with their peers who have similar interests and experience.
Students in the existing culinary program choose a concentration – assistant baker, prep cook or pantry cook – and complete a 60-hour culinary internship at a local restaurant or business upon completion of their in-class instruction. They also take Food Service Sanitation, which provides the opportunity for ServSafe certification.
Students in the new hospitality program will also take classes along with students from the North East campus. Within their coursework, students in pursuit of the new hospitality certificate will learn general aspects of restaurant and hotel operations, including guest services and housekeeping. Students involved in the hospitality certificate program will also complete their experience with an internship.
The OASIS Program culminates with a graduation ceremony in the summer.
All OASIS students benefit from working with the program facilitator and peer mentors in classes, labs and small group instruction. OASIS students also spend time learning “soft skills” like punctuality, following a schedule, problem solving, filling out job applications and completing job interviews.
Applications are currently being taken. Enrollment is open to students age 18 and older with documented intellectual or developmental disabilities. For more information, please contact Sara Kitchen at 814-725-6250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO: OASIS student Kari Birchard portions chocolate chip cookies during class.