Off to a Great Start …with More to Come!

We hope that this quick update finds everyone in great spirits, having enjoyed time with family and friends over the summer. We are happy to share a bit of exciting information about our achievements over the past year and our plans for the coming semester. It’s great to be a Hawkeye!


Bill signature

Bill Loyd
UI REACH Program Director


UI REACH Students Mask Up!

This year looks very different at UI. But UI REACH students are adapting well and doing their part to remain safe by wearing masks and practicing social distancing. 

REACH students in the classroom wearing masks
REACH students wearing masks

Year 1 UI REACH students

Enrollment Update


enrollment graphic

Current enrollment: 41. Year 1 students: 19. Year 2 students: 14. Year 3 students: 6. Year 4 students: 2. Residents: 15. Non-residents: 26.

A Quick Glance at This Year's Enrollment

  • This year’s students represent 12 states/provinces

  • UI REACH received 46 applications this year

  • Eight students have already been accepted for next year

  • Eleven students deferred until next year due to COVID 19 concerns

UI REACH Alumni Corner

Brian Campbell has been quite busy in his new role of Alumni Supports Specialist. Campbell contacted 160 of UI REACH’s 171 alumni to get updates from them. The findings were impressive when compared to the same stats for other persons with disabilities. The graphs at right tell the story – our grads are doing amazing things. Other quick facts:

  • 100% of those responding were making more than minimum wage with 81% making above $10 per hour
  • 37 % receive benefits on their jobs.
Employment Rate

Employment Rate. Employed: 89%. Unemployed: 11%

Employed: 88%. Unemployed: 11%.

Living Situation

Living with parents: 46% (69). Living alone or with roommate 54% (80)

Live alone or w/roommate: 54% (80). Live with parents: 46% (69)

Employment Status

Employment Statiscis. Work < 30 hr/wk 55%. Work > 30 hr/wk 37%. No response 8%

Work < 30 hr/wk: 55%. Work > 30 hr/wk: 37%. No response: 8%.

Danny Huyer

Recent graduate Danny Huyer has recently been accepted as a full time University of Iowa traditional student! Huyer will be studying Cinematic Arts this fall. Huyer says, “This is considered a win for REACH. UI REACH can now be seen as an institution in its own right and open doors to future students transitioning from REACH to traditional colleges.”

Kate Wood

Not only has recent graduate Kate Wood, already landed a job, but she’s also doing her own online cooking blog! Wood has always loved cooking and is now working as a dietary aide and The Bridges at Ankeny. Check out Wood's blog and let her know how proud we are of her! Way to go Kate!

David Flower-Carothers

Recent graduate David Flower-Carothers set his sites on furthering his education after leaving UI REACH, and he is on track to do just that. Flower-Carothers was accepted at Beacon College for students with learning disabilities in Leesburg, Florida. He is pursuing a degree in business management. Congrats David!

Samantha Bradley
Meet Our Newest Intern

My name is Samantha Bradley, and I graduated from the University of Iowa this past spring with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and Psychology. I am from Lemont, Illinois. I am a major Hawkeye football fan and Chicago Blackhawks fan. This year I am most excited to get to know the students at Tuesday night UI REACH activities. 


Here are just a few of the things going on this semester. The limited space in this newsletter won’t allow us to tell it all so you will have to stay tuned for future editions of the newsletter to learn more!

Current UI REACH students are already doing great things! So far, the adjustment to a very different campus life is going well. Of course, there are the usual feelings of homesickness and getting lost on campus, but students are already making new friends, adjusting to life in the residence hall, and learning more about their roommates.

Life is very different on campus, but students are quickly learning new skills like safe socialization, using technology for activities like ordering meals and accessing the wellness center, safe practices while on campus and in the community, and tapping into their support network when needed. 

All of our staff returned and are doing an amazing job with supporting our students in this new environment. We welcomed a new intern who is equally amazing, and our mentors and RAs are helping with academics, activities and 1:1 meetings with students to find new interests.  Even though our enrollment is lower, staff hands are more than full in helping students adjust to the new campus norms.

We were fortunate to retain Lauren Bruno, who relocated to Washington state, on contract to facilitate our Person-Centered Planning initiative. Bruno has already met with all new and returning students to help them set goals for their time at UI REACH and beyond in “Dream Sessions.”  Next steps for these students are attending circle of support meetings where the students will talk about their plans and enlist the support of family, friends, staff, and other professionals in moving towards their goals.  Advisors will help each student develop implementation strategies and chart their progress, and Bruno will check in with each student at the end of each semester to revise plans and create next steps as needed. This is so exciting in that we are able to customize each student’s experience at UI REACH and truly make it individualized. 

ACT WorkKeys Project is off and running!

WorkKeys group
All returning students completed their first round of Fall WorkKeys Assessments. WorkKeys is a system of assessments and curriculum that build and measure essential workplace skills that can affect performance and increase opportunities for career changes and advancement. The assessments measure performance in three areas: graphic literacy, workplace documents, and applied math. Students can score at levels ranging from bronze to platinum. By completing the assessments, students can earn the National Career Readiness Certificate® (NCRC®).

The ACT NCRC is a portable, evidence-based credential that certifies the essential skills for workplace success. Employers look for it from job candidates, whether they come directly from high school, work-based learning programs, or through postsecondary paths, because it is a valid predictor of job performance.

We are excited to announce that three students earned Bronze level, five students earned Silver level, and two students earned Gold level credentials. Students will be participating in a WorkKeys Lab this year to utilize the ACT WorkKeys curriculum and receive support while preparing for Spring assessments. Graduating students will have an opportunity to retake the assessments to qualify or improve their scores. First Year students will take WorkKeys assessments Spring semester and begin exploring the curriculum in class.

Look for additional details in our Career and Transition Updates coming out soon!

Fall Internship Update:

Jenny Jex at CDD internship and Griffin Ranney at Acess 2 Independence internship.
UI REACH Career Staff are busy prepping students for internship interviews and start days at their fall internship sites.

Students are excited to start their new work experiences at sites such as Little Village Magazine, Petland, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), and Little Angels Daycare. These outstanding work experiences will provide students opportunities to apply and refine workplace skills and will also give students a chance to acquire new skills and greater confidence in the workplace. Look for our Intern of the Week feature on social media!

Photo: Jenny Jex at CDD internship and Griffin Ranney at Acess 2 Independence internship.

Virtual Tours

Upcoming Tour Dates

​ Despite changes implemented due to campus closure, our virtual tours produced great results. We plan to continue the virtual tours until further notice.

  • Monday October 19 – 10am
  • Friday November 6 – 10am
  • Friday December 11 – 10am
  • Friday January 15 – 10am

All tours are Central Time.

University of Iowa College of Education

Help us to spread the word to others who may be interested in learning about UI REACH and the University of Iowa.

Encourage prospective students and families to sign up for a tour by calling our main office at 319-384-2127 or by visiting our website.

Volunteer for Virtual Tours

Many thanks to the many families and students who volunteered to participate in our virtual tours last semester. We’re looking for volunteers to do the same for future tours.

If you are interested in serving on a virtual student or parent panel, addressing prospective student and parent questions, please contact Adam Miller at  

UI REACH plans for the future

Last fall, we reached out to our stakeholders to get your opinions on what we should look like in the next five years. Some of the repeated themes found in our survey results are summarized in the graphic below. We also learned that our staff, our curriculum, the overall college experience, the unique UI community, and the supportive environment were what you see as our program strengths. Further, you told us that social growth, employment skill acquisition, and growth in confidence are the three outcomes most associated with UI REACH. Overall satisfaction with the UI REACH experience reached heights at 96% for students and 83% for parents. 

We also enlisted the help of Hanover Research firm to conduct a differentiation study and a prospective parent survey on our behalf. These studies resulted in recommendations such as expanded program offerings, enhanced regional recruitment, partnerships with K-12 schools, and increasing awareness about the things that make UI REACH great.

Armed with this information, the UI REACH leadership team, staff, and advisory board are now developing a strategic plan to help us achieve this combined vision. The plan will contain strategies for the elements described below and more. We plan to share the draft plan in the next edition of our newsletter and will once again solicit your input. Thank you for helping UI REACH grow and improve.

Staff Spotlight

Kelsey Friday

We are thrilled to announce that Kelsey Friday has been recognized by the Iowa Association of Community Providers (IACP) with a Direct Support Professional (DSP) Award.

Friday receives this honor as a result of her dedication and hard work at UI REACH.  In addition to serving on the student life team and teaching independent living skills to year 3 students, Friday has been a champion for person-centered planning and outreach. She assisted each advisee in developing their person- centered plan during this first round of the initiative. She scheduled additional advising sessions--in person and virtual--to ensure her advisees were ready for the next level of development and goal setting with their care teams. She frequently raises concerns and shares ideas on how to create the best student and family experience in events like orientation, activities, and graduation. Congratulations and keep up the great work, Kelsey!


Group at Golf USA
Golf USA Hits Another Hole in One with UI REACH

Once again, our champions and community partners at Golf USA have gone the extra mile on our behalf. Owners Patti and Bruce Brooke made UI REACH the beneficiary of their Buster Cup Tournament and presented a check for $3,500 to be used for recruitment purposes.  The Brookes have also hosted interns at their shop for the past several years.  Intern Robbie Axline is pictured here at far right with Patti Brooke, Bill Loyd, Dillon Thompson, Bruce Brooke and Michael Petkewec.  Thank you seems inadequate for all that the Brookes have done on behalf of UI REACH so they also have our continued admiration and gratitude.

Date Changes to Remember

The University of Iowa recently announced that there will be changes to the winter break and spring semester that include the UI REACH Program.  The brief highlights from the University of Iowa notification:

  • The spring 2021 semester will begin on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, one week later than originally planned.
  • UI REACH will follow these adjustments made to the university academic calendar so students will move-in January 23-January 24, 2021.
  • There will be no spring break. This change was made in consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the ability to maintain the same number of instruction days while starting one week later.
  • The university and UI REACH Program expect that classes for the spring 2021 semester will be offered in similar formats as the fall semester. 
  • The spring 2021 for UI REACH will end Friday, May 7, 2021 with convocation details to be confirmed during the spring semester.
  • The university will closely monitor cases of COVID-19 throughout the winter and spring semesters and will take action deemed necessary to help mitigate the transmission of the virus.

For additional information, please visit the University of Iowa’s COVID website

Please note changes to 2021 dates.

Date(s) Information
October 16, 2020 Optional: UI REACH Family Weekend (virtual)
October 24-25, 2020 Optional University of Iowa Homecoming Weekend
November 20, 2020 Thanksgiving Break begins – Last day of UI REACH classes. Year 2 and Year 3 students are expected to work at their internship on Friday. UI REACH students check-out of hall by 7:00 PM*
November 28, 2020 UI REACH students return to hall after 1:00 PM*
November 30, 2020 UI REACH and University classes resume
December 11, 2020 UI REACH and University classes end for fall semester. UI REACH students check out of hall by 7:00 PM*
January 23, 2021 UI REACH students return to hall after 1:00 PM*
January 25, 2021 Spring Session Begins
  No Spring Break
May 6, 2021 UI REACH Classes end for Spring Semester
May 7, 2021 UI REACH Convocation
May 8, 2021 UI REACH students check out of the hall by noon

College of Education
S229F Lindquist Center
240 S. Madison Street
Iowa City, IA 52242-1529
Phone: (319) 384-2127
Fax: (319) 384-2167

Go Hawk! UI REACH and Herky