Union’s EDGE program opens new doors for special needs students

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JACKSON, Tenn. — A new two-year program coming to the campus of Union University will allow special needs students to continue their education beyond high school and prepare them for the workforce. “God is working in my life and He’s shaped my life, and it’s really a great thing,” Kelsie Layman, one of the first students accepted into the inaugural year of the program told WBBJ. Layman said she shed tears of joy after hearing she’d be in the EDGE program next fall. The EDGE program will have eight students per year and 16 students at any given time. “These students are students that have a lot to offer our society and our culture but have often been overlooked and under-served,” director of the EDGE program Jennifer Graves said. Graves said when students graduate they’ll have the skills needed to get a job. “These students will receive on that day a certificate of completion that allows a future employer to know what their skill set is and what they can bring to the table as a future employee,” Graves said. School officials said a unique aspect of Union’s EDGE program is that the students involved will get to live on campus, ensuring they get the full college experience. That’s something Layman says she’s looking forward to. “I’m going to live on campus, and I love the idea because my parents had the college experience here at Union,” Layman said. “There are lots of opportunities to be included, to bond with people and to basically learn from one another what life has to offer,” Graves said when talking about having EDGE students living on campus. Getting what life has to offer is what she said the program is all about. “When you meet students like Kelsie, Seth, Maria and Ethan, you can’t help but know this is right,” Graves said. “This is what’s right for Union. This is what’s right for Jackson. This is what’s right for this entire community.” A video of Kelsie getting her acceptance letter into the program has gotten more than a thousand shares online. You can see that video here: https://vimeo.com/user23457234/review/124871725/27a4baafec

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