Aspiring Aspy Education Fund

Aspiring Aspy Education Fund

From Mark Whitteker

Raising funds to pay for Kaitlyn's college support program, a program for aspiring students with Asperger's syndrome.

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Recent Updates

Update #3

almost 7 years ago

Kaitlyn was officially accepted into Mansfield Hall, and is enrolling in school. We are now working on getting her packed and ready for the move to Vermont! We'll be heading North next Tuesday the 13th, arriving in Burlington the evening of the 14th. Wendy and I will spend the following week there helping Kaitlyn get settled into her dorm room, and classes start on the 26th. Exciting times!

More Info

Kaitlyn is one of the most amazing people I know. At three years old she taught herself to read.  At four years old she memorized all the dinosaurs. At five years old she skipped Kindergarten by testing into third grade (but of course they would only let her move up to first grade). At six she decided she would be a paleontologist, and that never waivered. As elementary school progressed she started collecting rocks and learning all about them. Pokemon became an obsession. Her particular interests were easy to understand, however, people were not. Middle school, like for most of us, sucked. Due to unforeseen circumstances, she went to a different school each year for three years, yet continued to excel in her classes. High school was a different beast. Friends were few and far between because her interests remained obscure, while she also struggled to understand feelings and read social cues. However, compassion came easily. At the time of her 2012 graduation with honors, she was fluent in German, could identify every gemstone known to man and tell you every interesting factoid about the band Queen. Then comes college. Figuring out how to achieve a degree in Paleontology was thwarted by anxiety over going to class, note-taking and deadlines. She worked so hard to get through each class, utilizing her disability accommodations to make that happen for three semesters. Then, it was just too overwhelming. Even with our undying support and her Wake Tech Community College DSS team, it just wasn’t going to happen, so she took a break. The goal of returning to that life is there, but just not achievable at home. That’s where Mansfield Hall comes in.

Mansfield Hall is located in Burlington, Vermont…far from home and parents in NC. It is a unique program that provides young adults with Aspergers and other disabilities the support they need to be successful in college, a career and an independent lifestyle. The holistic approach they use is to immerse their students in all aspects of a well-rounded lifestyle, which consists of Learning, Living, Giving and Engaging. This supportive community helps their students nurture their intellectual, artistic, physical and social lives.

Learning revolves around each student’s academic and career goals by developing a Life and Career Plan. The academic team oversees individualized class accommodations, tutoring, and study groups.

Living includes learning independent living skills, organization, financial management, practical culinary skills and collaborative living. The Student Life Coordinators (as well as local college students doing fellowships) oversee the day-to-day activities…classes, running errands, planning social events, outings, etc.  

Giving is exactly that, providing charitable support and giving back to the community through various volunteer opportunities is key to the program. This takes place through both group service-learning activities and independent volunteering jobs.

Engaging in the community outside of Mansfield Hall helps students to develop their social skills. The local colleges provide many opportunities for students to participate in a variety of clubs, festivals, music events and wellness programs. The Burlington area is full of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, skiing and water sports. Within Mansfield Hall, a community meeting takes place weekly to address student issues, plan activities, communicate with the Program Director and take advantage of leadership opportunities. Other activities include yoga, meditation and groups that help develop communication skills.

The support students receive while at Mansfield Hall is quite comprehensive. Academic Directors meet weekly with each student to discuss their goals, responsibilities and assignments. Academic Coaches, Writing Specialists and tutors are available daily. The Hall is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with Student Life Staff and local college students. Each student is assigned their own Student Life Coordinator…their “go-to” person throughout each day. In addition, there are meetings with a Social Communications Specialist and optional counseling services.

The final piece of the puzzle is the Parent Support Network. Mansfield Hall understands that parent’s play a key part in helping their student ‘s transition to independence and changing nature of the relationship. By providing resources, regular updates throughout the program, the entire family travels together along the same path. Please become a part of our family by donating today.

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Mark Whitteker posted a new update:
almost 7 years ago

Update #3

Kaitlyn was officially accepted into Mansfield Hall, and is enrolling in school. We are now working on getting her packed and ready for the move to Vermont! We'll be heading North next Tuesday the 13th, arriving in Burlington the evening of the 14th. Wendy and I will spend the following week there helping Kaitlyn get settled into her dorm room, and classes start on the 26th. Exciting times!

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Mark Whitteker posted a new update:
almost 7 years ago

Update #2

We visited Burlington this past weekend to check out Mansfield Hall in person, as well as look at the local college. Very pleased with both. The staff at Mansfield are very kind, supportive, and committed to the students. Kaitlyn felt comfortable around them, and even went with them on a bowling outing on Saturday!

We think this is going to be a great opportunity for her, both academically and personally. Not only is the college close by, but there is also the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center nearby where she will be able to volunteer and pursue her passion in wildlife care taking and preservation alongside her studies!

Classes start the last week of January, so we have just over a month until we'll be back in Burlington getting her settled in. Exciting!

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Mark Whitteker posted a new update:
about 7 years ago

We just officially kicked off the campaign, and have posted it to Facebook!

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