Three incoming freshman with intellectual disabilities at the University of Oklahoma received their acceptance letters Tuesday.
Peyton, Bo and Madison thought they were going for a campus tour. However, the admissions staff, community members, student athletes and the Pride of Oklahoma band surprised them with letters of admission.
The three make up first class of Sooner Works students. The four-year residential program is the first of its kind in Central Oklahoma.
“I’m very happy to be a part of OU,” Peyton Dumas said. “It’s been a lifelong dream.”
For parents, like Chandra Dumas, the program is a dream come true.
“As you get older, everyone is talking about college, and it’s never really been an option to go to OU or OSU or even UCO,” Chandra said.
“I’m so excited to be here for this next chapter in my life,” incoming student Madison Mason said.
Students will live in in the dorms for four years, taking four to six hours of traditional classes, while taking specialized classes to expand life skills.
“We have lots of kids who have great experiences in the K-12 system, but when they age out of that system, often times there’s really no opportunity for them,” Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education Dean Gregg Garn said. “As the flagship institution, of the things we wanted to do is take a leadership role.”
Sooner Works Director Williams-Diehm said the program is currently complexly funded through program fees paid by participants. She hopes to grow the program to include 10 students each semester, however, they’ll need funds to grow the program. They said all donations will go to program growth and scholarships for students.
Students move into the dorms next Wednesday and Thursday. The first day of classes is August 19.