The PSUSD’s Workability 2nd Annual GradCon event helped more than 150 District special education students realize the many educational and career options they have available to them after high school. Held last month at the Agua Caliente Resort in Rancho Mirage, the event was funded by a grant from the Anderson Children’s Foundation and featured a morning full of workshops focused on post secondary education, vocational training or entering the workforce.

Following the first general session, which featured a panel including two graduates who talked about what they are doing now, attendees chose from workshops on topics including: College of the Desert Disabled Student Programs and Services; Cal State San Bernardino’s Services to Students with Disabilities; financial aid; vocational training for a career; interviewing skills; and SunLine Transit.

“We emphasized that the students are so much more than their IEP (individualized education plan), and that the IEP does not define who they are,” noted Sheryl Deeds, WorkAbility program coordinator and school psychologist. “(IEP) impacts them and presents challenges, but all of the students have skills, gifts and talents, and, with the appropriate resources and accommodations, they can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves.”

The second general session held during lunch featured Palm Springs Police Officer Joshua Crocker who talked to students about taking their dreams and turning them into plans.

“GradCon is a wonderful opportunity for our students to explore a wide range of post-secondary options,” said Rick Haga, a Palm Springs High special education teacher. “By having people come from COD, CSUSB, Job Corp and local businesses, it allowed the students to be in a comfortable environment where they could get firsthand information about topics specific to graduating seniors.”

“What I learned at GradCon was that you can still go to college even with a disability,” said PSHS student Yatzahary Mejia. “There are many programs that can accommodate to your needs, which is great. I have high hopes for college now and gather a lot of information about it from COD and CSUSB.”

Deeds credited members of her WorkAbility team and event sponsors for GradCon’s success.

“GradCon was such as a success because of the hard work of the WorkAbility Transition Specialists Priscilla Arballo and Angie Sosa,” Deeds said adding that she also appreciates door prize contributors Fallas, The Lee Family, Jack in the Box, Ernesto Flores, La Michoacana, Del Taco, Walmart and Aspen Mills.

Photo IDs are GradCon Organizers: From left, School Psychologist Jennifer Moya; Program Specialist Deb Sather; School Psychologist Miranda Cedeas; WorkAbility Transition Specialists Angie Sosa and Priscilla Arballo; School Psychologists Lesa Lorraine, Lirio Escobar and Rick Cassar; and, seated, WorkAbility Coordinator and School Psychologist Sheryl Deeds