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Brian Page’s youngest son, Benjamin, was born prematurely with a bleed in his brain.
“He’s our miracle child,” Page says about Benjamin, now 25 years old. “He wasn’t expected to make it. The doctors literally said he would probably never walk, talk, sit up or roll over.”
That was far from the case. Benjamin grew up with vision issues and learning disabilities, but “one day he said to me he would like to go to college like his [older] brother,” says Page.
In 2016, Benjamin began studying at Shepherds College in Union Grove, a post-secondary school created to meet the needs of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He graduated in 2020 after completing the curriculum, which includes life skills (like learning to do your own laundry) and an occupational field training (culinary arts, horticulture or technology). A significant number of grads live independently after graduating.
“We didn’t realize how much we were helicoptering his life,” says Page, who was amazed one day when he called home and Benjamin was in the middle of washing his clothes, a task he learned at Shepherds College.
Page, who has a background in college administration, joined the Shepherds College team as its senior vice president of advancement in 2017. Now he advocates for the power of Benjamin’s education and experience at Shepherds College to potential students and donors.
“It’s a revelation for students to say, ‘I’m going to college with other kids who are like me,’” says Page.
Students at Shepherds College have hailed from 34 different states and eight different countries. In the students’ third year at the college, they are placed in jobs related to their chosen field, working up to 20 hours a week, and the college has a 79% placement rate.
Within the last year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-at-home orders, the school launched a new online learning program, which it plans to continue offering as a means to further expand its reach.
What We Do:
- Shepherds College provides a uniquely designed learning environment for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- The college offers job, social and living skills training as well as specialized occupational training in the areas of culinary arts, horticulture and technology, on a residential campus.
Where Your Money Goes:
- Donations are used for student scholarships, operations and development of new programs such as Shepherds College Online. The Shepherds College Annual Scholarship Fund assists students with financial need. This school year, 61.8% of students are receiving a scholarship.
1805 15th Ave.,