MERCYHURST NORTH EAST OASIS PROGRAM

The OASIS Program is a post-secondary transition program that offers academic and behavioral support for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

OASIS offers one- and two-year options for adults (ages 18 and older) with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to earn proficiency-based certificates in a college setting. This unique, non-credit program gives students the opportunity to learn academic and vocational skills alongside traditional students pursuing similar vocational interests.

OASIS is located on the beautiful Mercyhurst North East campus in North East, Pennsylvania. Mercyhurst is one of the few universities in the country currently offering a fully inclusive residential option on campus. 

Programs

OASIS students are offered two choices in regard to program length.

One-Year Program

Our one-year certificate is designed for students searching for immediate employment. Typically, a good candidate for the one-year program is someone who has some work experience, possibly living independently in the community, and has strong self-advocacy and time-management skills. 

Students in the one-year program will be placed in the core certificate of choice courses and participate in the OASIS-specific courses that emphasis mastery of employment-readiness skills, such as customer service, understanding insurance, income and taxes, understanding earning statements, career planning and exploration.

Two-Year Program

Our two-year certificate is designed to offer more of the college experience. Students can go in many directions with this option. Some students opt for the two-year program to have a more traditional-length college experience; others are interested in eventually moving on to pursue higher-level degree; others have used this option as a job-searching option. Each student’s path through the program is unique and student-led, as determined through the person-center planning process. Staff work closely with students to identify overall post-graduation goals and develop plans to obtain those goals. Typically, a good candidate for the two-year program is someone who has little to no work experience, is still undecided on their desired course of employment, or would like a more immersive college-life experience. 

Students in the two-year program will also be placed in the core certificate of choice courses and participate in the OASIS-specific courses that emphasis mastery of employment-readiness skills such as customer service, understanding insurance, income and taxes, understanding earning statements, career planning and exploration during their second year of the program. 

During their first year of the program, students will participate in traditional REACH Curriculum university core courses on the college campus. They will have the option to choose electives that pique their personal interest or are related to their certificate of choice. They will also participate in the OASIS-specific courses that emphasis mastery of soft-skills related to employment-readiness as well as independent living. Topics include study skills and organization, emotional regulation, self-advocacy, banking and household management, and problem solving, among others.

Certificates of Concentration

The OASIS program currently offers four different areas of study for students interested in attending the program. Currently, students can choose between certificates in Business, Culinary, Hospitality, and Early Childhood. Each certificate is uniquely designed around the student’s employment goals and person-center planning. 

Business Certificate

The Business certificate most closely resembles a liberal arts education. This certificate is designed around the student’s interests. Students will participate in business courses that offer an understanding of how businesses operate, from managerial styles to marketing. Elective courses are chosen based on the student’s specific employment interests. For example, a student who is interested in obtaining employment in a computer field may participate in higher-level computer courses, while a student who is interested in working in veterinarian office or in the sport industry may pursue other elective options. Although all students would graduate with a certificate of business, each student would have an individual transcript to support employment in a particular business field.

Students will work on goals and objectives that are designed to teach skills most useful in any business office setting. 

Below is PDF breaking down a generalized plan of study for students in the one-year and two-year Business certificate. It is important to remember that no two students’ paths in the program are the same. This PDF will provide a generalized overview of some courses they may participate in.

Culinary Certificate

The Culinary certificate provides students with hands-on experience for employment in the back-of-house settings in the restaurant, food service and culinary industry. Students will participate in courses that offer skill mastery related to baking, proper tool usage, weights and measures, proper knife usage, food storage, etc.  Previous graduates have obtained jobs in area such as bakery settings, back-of-house event planning and preparation, restaurant industry, etc. 

Students will work on goals and objectives that are designed to teach skills most useful in any culinary setting. 

Below is PDF breaking down a generalized plan of study for students in the one-year and two-year Culinary certificate. It is important to remember that no two students’ paths in the program are the same. This PDF will provide a generalized overview of some courses they may participate in.

Hospitality Certificate

The Hospitality certificate provides students with hands-on experience for employment in the front-of-house settings in the hospitality industry. Two paths are offered through the certificate. The first path focuses on preparing students for employment in event planning; this will expose students to preparation of large and small events including weddings, graduations, meetings, etc. The second is for housekeeping; this offers training for proper cleaning prep of hotel rooms, office spaces, and other large-facility settings. Students will participate in courses that provide an overview of housekeeping, analysis of operational costs, methods and academics related to environmental operations and functions, etc. Students who have completed this certificate have obtained employment in the entertainment industries, event planning industries, and hotel operational positions. 

Students will work on goals and objectives that are designed to teach skills most useful in any hospitality setting. 

Below is PDF breaking down a generalized plan of study for students in the one-year and two-year Hospitality certificate. It is important to remember that no two students’ paths in the program are the same. This PDF will provide a generalized overview of some courses they may participate in.

Early Childhood Certificate

The Early Childhood certificate provides students with hands-on experience for employment working with young children (preschool to third grade). OASIS partners with local elementary schools and daycare settings to provide on-site opportunities to learn the foundations of early childhood development, physical activities, health and safety of young children, as well as skills related to academics for primary-school grades. Students who have completed this certificate have obtained employment in daycare settings in positions such as teacher aides, room staff, and care attendants.  

Students will work on goals and objectives that are designed to teach skills most useful in any early childhood educational setting. 

Below is PDF breaking down a generalized plan of study for students in the one-year and two-year Early Childhood certificate. It is important to remember that no two students’ paths in the program are the same. This PDF will provide a generalized overview of some courses they may participate in.

OASIS Specialized Courses

OASIS is an inclusive on-campus program for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities through which they’ll take courses alongside peers and obtain a certificate of completion at graduation. We understand that many students may need additional assistance to master skills that will enhance their ability to find and maintain employment and to live as independently as desired. OASIS students participate in specialized courses that address an array of topics beneficial to meeting goals.

Living Independently I & II

Students in the OASIS Program enroll in OASIS-specialized courses that focus on an array of skills related to independent living and employment readiness. OASIS tailors the program lessons to the student’s mastery level, as determined through assessments that are conducted immediately upon acceptance to the program. 

These assessments allow program staff to prepare the learning environment around the needs of the student. No two students learn the same; the OASIS Program highlights this fact. Assessments are run frequently and throughout the student’s time in the program to determine the next step the student will take. 

Life Skills Development I & II will be taken during a two-year student’s first year. Topics will include:

  • Study Skills
  • Organization Skills
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Self-advocacy
  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving
  • Independent Living (etiquette, personal hygiene, conflict resolution, personal safety, healthy decision-making) 
  • First Aid and Community Safety
  • Human Sexuality
  • Transportation and Safety
  • Shopping (grocery, clothing, supplies, discounts, sales, etc.)
  • Cooking and Household Management
  • Banking and Savings Accounts 
    • Understanding different accounts, ATM use, fees, paying bills, debit vs. credit, etc.) 

Employment Readiness I & II

Students in the OASIS Program enroll in OASIS-specialized courses that focus on an array of skills related to independent living and employment readiness. OASIS tailors the program lessons to the student’s mastery level, as determined through assessments that are conducted immediately upon acceptance to the program. 

These assessments allow program staff to prepare the learning environment around the needs of the student. No two students learn the same; the OASIS Program highlights this fact. Assessments are run frequently and throughout the student’s time in the program to determine the next step the student will take. 

Employment Readiness I & II will be taken by one-year students, and by two-year students in the second year. Topics will include:

  • Making a budget 
  • Long- and short-term goal setting
  • Hard skills
  • Customer service 
  • Giving and receiving criticism
  • Being assertive
  • Planning and organizing
  • Insurance
    • Health benefits, insurance coverage, HMOs, etc. 
    • Life insurances
    • Premiums, dependents
  • Income and taxes
    • Earning statements
    • W4 and W2 forms
    • Define income, taxes, and wages
  • Resume writing
    • Cover letters and references
  • Completing applications
    • Career planning and exploration
  • Career and business writing
  • Diversity in the workplace
  • Cultural diversity in settings
  • Ethics in the workplace
  • Body language
  • Job interviews

Accreditation

OASIS is an approved Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP), as well as a Transition and Postsecondary Program for Students with Intellectual Disability (TPSID), and a member of the Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium (PIHEC). 

Comprehensive Transition Program

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 described and defined a new type of higher education program for students with intellectual disabilities: the Comprehensive Transition Program or CTP. A CTP is only available at an institute of higher education. The institute must participate in Title IV Federal Student Aid and be designed to support students with intellectual disabilities to prepare for employment. Programs must spend at least 50 percent of the time in inclusive environments (courses, labs, etc.) with students without disabilities. Programs must meet the clock hours of a full status. As of now, student’s federal or private student loans are not available to students with ID attending a CTP at this time. Through being a CTP, students in OASIS can receive federal Pell grants, federal work-study, and federal supplement education opportunity. 

For more information on CTPs, please review the following resources: 

https://thinkcollege.net/think-college-learn/comprehensive-transition-programs-0

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/intellectual-disabilities

Transition and Postsecondary Program for Students with Intellectual Disability (TPSID)

TPSID Programs are projects funded by the Department of Education. Mercyhurst University and Penn State University assisted Millersville University in developing a proposal for growing the movement of offering post-secondary education to students with intellectual disabilities. Mercyhurst University’s OASIS Program received title of a TPSID program and is a host to promote the Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium (PIHEC).

For more information on TPSID programs, please review the following resources: 

https://thinkcollege.net/tpsid

https://thinkcollege.net/about/what-is-think-college/think-college-national-coordinating-center

https://www2.ed.gov/programs/tpsid/index.html

Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium (PIHEC)

Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium is a collaboration of higher education institutions dedicated to designing and supporting campus settings to facilitate an inclusive education for young adults with intellectual disabilities. The purpose of the consortium is help students, within the educational settings, offer social and independent living experiences while working towards integrated competitive employment.

For more information on PIHEC programs, please review the following resources: 

https://pihec.com/

https://thinkcollege.net/resource/pa-inclusive-higher-education-consortium


Contact Us

For general questions and inquires, program staff can be reached by email at oasis@mercyhurst.edu.

Mailing Address:
16 West Division Street
North East, PA 16428


Meet the Staff

OASIS Program