Friday, November 13, 2020

By Elianna Novitch

Whether it’s in the classroom or on the court, Jack Devlin is making the most of his college experience.

Devlin is a third-year student in the University of Iowa’s REACH (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes) Program, a comprehensive two-to four-year certificate program in the UI College of Education for students ages 18 to 25 years old with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities. 

UI REACH offers students with unique learning needs like Devlin a personalized Big Ten college experience to prepare them for independent living. It was one of the first such programs of its kind in the nation that is part of a research institution. Along with being a UI REACH student, Devlin also works as a student manager for the Iowa men’s basketball team. 

Devlin joined the UI REACH program in fall 2018 and will be returning to the UI this fall as part of the program’s third-year option. This past summer, he spent time with his family, working out, and keeping in touch with the friends he has made from the UI REACH program.

“The best part about the program is the staff that helps the UI REACH students with finding a job and living independently. The staff is always available to answer questions and talk,” Devlin says. “I know I learn new things every day. They are always encouraging and positive.”

REACH students get to have a Big Ten college experience and are empowered to become independent members of the community. Students participate in coursework, campus life, and career experiences during their time with UI REACH as they prepare to reach their full potential and achieve their goals.

 “Jack always planned to attend a college or a university and have a typical university experience,” Jack’s Father, Matt Devlin, says. 

But Jack’s parents weren’t sure if having a college experience was possible for him until they learned about UI REACH Program.

“All of our students attend classes with a focus on functional academics. They can also take classes with traditional students,” says, Bill Loyd, director of UI REACH Program.“That’s what UI REACH is all about, that full integration of those students and making sure they have the same college experience that you and I had when we were in college.” 

Devlin started working as a student manager for the Iowa men’s basketball team in 2019. 

“I was introduced to the team and Coach Fran McCaffery my freshman year while attending all of the home games,” Devlin says. “But it was my sophomore year that I had a regular schedule and worked with the team as a student manager.”

As student manager he assists with helping set up for practice, warm ups, and making sure the court stays clear and dry. “He’s an incredibly warm young man and right away you could tell that Jack really understand the game,” McCaffary says. “He knows the game and loves it. Initially when he first came he said, ‘I’m here. I’ll do whatever you need me to do.’” 

Devlin and the team have become incredibly close. 

“The thing I enjoy most about being a student manager for the basketball team is being around the players, coaches, and all the other student managers who have helped me ever since I have stepped into the practice gym,” Devlin says. “Also, the sport of basketball has been in my blood for a long time and I hope I can continue to have a career with a basketball team in the future.”

Devlin’s parents are incredibly proud of all that he’s accomplished both as a student manager and student.

 “All you want to do is belong and be a part of something bigger than yourself and Jack feels that with that team,” Devlin’s mother, Erin Devlin, says. 

Devlin is excited to come back for his third year at Iowa.

 “I’m really excited to continue to work with the men’s basketball team and just continue to learn new things every day and grow as an individual,” Devlin says.

Read the related "Why I Give: Devlin family" story in our annual report.

Read more from the Annual Report 2020