Reaching her full potential
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Ali Heath's self-determination and independent living skills took a giant leap forward when she obtained a paid summer internship miles away from home. Heath, a young adult with disabilities, is an alumna of the University of Iowa College of Education's Realizing Educational and Career Hopes (REACH) Program, an inclusive postsecondary program for students with intellectual disabilities. Since its inception in 2008, 47 students have graduated from the program, with five now participating in a third-year apartment-living option.
Heath, of Iowa City, graduated from the REACH Program in 2011, and she participated in REACH's first summer internship at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Des Moines in the summer of 2012.
She worked for 12 weeks at Wellmark, an insurance company—learning many job skills, forming new friendships, and living in an apartment with roommates. John Forsyth, president and CEO of Wellmark, weighs in on the value of Ali's internship to Wellmark employees and looks forward to having a UI REACH intern next year. For more information on the REACH Program, visit www.education.uiowa.edu/reach.