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May 19, 2018 10:00 PM

Five Mark Completion Of Augie Access Program

Sioux Falls

Students all across KELOLAND are marking the end of a chapter in their lives. 

Hundreds of people walked across the stage during Augustana University's undergraduate commencement Saturday.

And for the first time, a handful of people in caps and gowns were celebrating completion of a unique program. 

The first cohort of Augie Access program has received their certificates of completion. 

21-year-old Wade Spillum is one of five in the crowd receiving the certificate. 

Volk: How do you feel being in this cap and gown today?
Spillum: Pretty excited. 

Launched in 2015 through a grant, Augie Access is a three year program for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  

Professor of Special Education Matt Johnson says the program teaches a variety of things, including skills to help land a job.

"That's kind of the ultimate goal is to send a message that we have a diverse group of individuals that you can hire and they'll be really good at what they do," Johnson said. 

Two other cohorts have been working their way through the program and the school will welcome several new students this fall.

But for now, it's time to celebrate the achievements of these five. 

Volk: What's it going to be like for you to watch them cross the stage?
Johnson: It's going to be awesome. It's going to be fabulous. 

"Even though you have a disability, you can still get around and do stuff in life," Spillum said. 

This was the final year for the grant, but Johnson says Augustana University will keep the program going, he hopes for many years to come. 





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