Hello and welcome to the Fall 2019 edition of UI REACH News.

The publication was revived last year at the request of stakeholders who wanted to stay informed on UI REACH happenings. This is our fourth edition over the past year and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy producing it. Please feel free to send us ideas for stories or other content you’d like to see. Please also help us spread the word about the newsletter by forwarding a link to your friends, family, coworkers or others in your social networks. 

With warm regards,

Bill Loyd – UI REACH Director

UI REACH observes another great Family Weekend

Oct. 4-5, 2019 marked another great Family Weekend for UI REACH families. On Friday, Oct. 4th,  the UI Women’s Softball and Gymnastics teams met us at the Women’s Intercollegiate Field in Coralville for a game of kickball with the students. The UI Softball team is so dedicated to their time with UI REACH students that they stayed for the game after completing one of their regular season games. Family members watched and cheered as students, athletes and a few staff ran the bases in a memorable game. On Saturday, October 5th, families attended information sessions presented by UI REACH staff including a family feedback sessions facilitated by Lauren Bruno, a family resource session facilitated by Kim Hanrahan, year 3 and 4 options session facilitated by Jordan Immerfall, and a look at enhanced student credentials planned for next fall facilitated by Bill Loyd.  Students and families gathered later in the day to watch the Hawkeyes play against Michigan.  Family weekend is just one of many family-oriented events that UI REACH hosts each year.  Others include home game tailgate parties, local and summer ReConnect events, summer and fall orientations, and of course our annual convocation. 

Family weekend kickball game

Did You Know?

As of our last convocation in May 2019, UI REACH has graduated 192 students from the program since our inception in 2008. The next convocation is already scheduled for May 8, 2020. Save the date and don’t miss it!

C-Span Bus Visits the UI Campus

UI REACH students with C-SPAN bus
UI REACH students visited the C-SPAN bus at the North Library Plaza, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. The C-SPAN Bus is an interactive, multimedia mobile classroom that travels the country to engage with community members and elected officials, showcasing C-SPAN's public affairs programming and resources. This state-of-the-art customized motor coach stops at book festivals, high schools and universities to host students and teachers around the nation, giving them an inside look at C-SPAN’s comprehensive educational and political resources. Our student council is planning for additional political resources as we approach Election 2020!

In The Know

UI REACH Student Council will begin making plans to educate student on Election 2020 candidate platforms and participate in campus registration drives. Stay tuned for more details. 

Priorities Update

The UI REACH team has been busy making ongoing improvements to the program over the past year. These improvements (by category) have included but are not limited to:

Student Self-Determination

  • UI REACH student enrollment in UI courses: increase of over 100 percent academic year over year (12 course enrollments in 2018-2019, 28 in 2019-2020)
  • Student Council moving into second semester and elected council members and officers in October! (More details to come in our next newsletter issue)
  • Nine students attended The Self Advocacy conference sponsored by Iowans with Disabilities in Coralville last month.  

Best Practices

  • Leadership team completed a first draft of a self-assessment using nationally recognized standards (NCC, CQL, CARF). Next steps will include prioritization of deficit areas and the launch of improvement strategies in the prioritized areas by fall.
  • Grant proposals submitted to:
    • train post docs in researching PSE outcomes for students with IDD
    • examine the short/long-term outcomes of college experience for students IDD (results pending)
    • Build relationships with Iowa businesses, determine their workforce needs and build capacity for internships and jobs (results pending)

Alumni Profiles

Sarah Pietrini
Sarah Pietrini

  • Class of 2016
  • Hometown: Chanhasse, Minnesota
  • Current town: Iowa City
  • Occupation: Bank Teller

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love hanging out with friends that had graduated with me and friends from other REACH classes as well. I have gone to REACH ReConnects and have reconnected with lots of other people.

Best memory while at UI REACH
I miss being in school and being in college. I really miss living in the dorms and being able to go and see friends whenever I wanted.  The classes were fun and I learned a lot. The staff were amazing and were always helpful when I needed help with anything. 

Advise for current UI REACH students
I really would advise to pay attention in the career classes.  Those classes were very helpful for me.  I wouldn’t be where I am today, working full time as a bank teller without the classes and internship experiences.  Also, just enjoy the time you have at UI REACH and keep those friendships close when you leave!!

Liam Kirstein
Liam Kirstein

  • Class of 2018

For the past two years now, Liam and his dad, Mark, have sponsored tailgate events for every Hawkeye home game! Alumni from far and near have attended and this year, Rays of REACH co-sponsored a tailgate that brought more than 20 current students to the festive event. In addition to the popular tailgate parties, Liam has had a few other successes as well. Check out this link to Liam’s employment story: https://aspirechicago.ejoinme.org/Liam

Staffing Updates

Since our last edition we have had a few additions to our staff! UI REACH welcomes Erin Berkinholtz and Brett Koenig to the Careers team! Jennifer Creamers will lead that team as Coordinator beginning January 2020. Brian Campbell is moving into a newly created position as Alumni Support Specialist and in that role he will have increased contact with alumni and determining how UI REACH can offer an array of supports to them. Lauren Bruno has been with us as a post-doctoral student for the past year. Through the generous support of a donor, we will be able to retain Lauren’s expertise in transitions as we plan for enhancements in the year 3 and year 4 curriculum. Last, but certainly not least, we are happy to introduce Kimberly Hanrahan as our new Student Support Coordinator. Kim came on staff with UI REACH in August 2019 and hit the ground running providing supports and resources for both students and staff. Kim’s position was also made possible through the generous support of a UI REACH donor. 

Big Tour Update and Dates

Five families visited campus on October 4, 2019 to learn more about UI REACH. But they also learned more about the University of Iowa, when for the first time, prospective families were included in the university wide tours alongside traditional students and families.

The day started in the UI REACH office with a meet-and-greet and presentation about UI REACH. Families also went on student-led tours to the residence halls and then joined a huge group of traditional students for a campus tour.  Prospective students and their families also had lunch with current year 1 students at the newly renovated Burge dining hall. The day ended with a parent panel featuring parents of current and alumni answering questions from prospective parents. We got great feedback from our visitors who definitely enjoyed being a part of the big tours.

Future Big Tour dates have been scheduled and the response has been overwhelming! The next Big Tour date is set for Jan. 27, 2020. Staff will also host more than 20 educators, guidance counselors, and other professionals for a tour on Nov. 22nd.  Regular UI REACH tours (without the full campus tours and parent panel) are still being scheduled on Mondays and Fridays. Please share the word with interested families about either tour by having them call our office at 319-384-2127 or complete our online tour request form.

Good To Know

Since the start of 2019, UI REACH staff have completed seven presentations on post-graduation outcomes in national forums and have published six peer reviewed journal articles within the same period on a variety of subject matter related to post-secondary education for persons with disabilities.  We’re doing our best to let the world know that UI REACH produces great results!


Whales for a cause graphics
Wow, Rays of REACH is doing it again! Last year, Rays of REACH was awarded the prestigious Hawkeye Phil Was Here Award (pictured at left) for raising more than $8,000 in scholarship funds. So far this year, they have already passed their scholarship fundraising goal of $8,000 in the GOLDRush Campaign and have set another stretch goal of $10,000!  Our students believe in the program so much that they’d like to see other deserving students attend UI REACH so they are adding to our Sally Pederson Scholarship Fund through a GOLDRush campaign. Please help them reach their goal by making a donation today.

UI REACH has donated over 300 meals for No Kid Hungry

UI REACH responded to the Whales for a Cause movement sponsored by Vineyard Vines. Throughout the year Vineyard Vines picks various organizations to support through #WhalesForACause and believes you “give back more to the community than you receive.” Therefore, during the month of September, at the start of the school year, Vineyard Vines chose to support the No Kid Hungry Campaign. The No Kid Hungry Campaign connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. One in seven children in the U.S. faces hunger; with millions of kids starting the school day on an empty stomach. However, hungry kids cannot learn. Therefore, UI REACH students and staff grabbed their markers and crayons and decided to color and share more than 30 whales using the hashtag #whalesforacause. For each whale colored and shared, Vineyard Vines donated up to 10 nutritious meals for kids in need. As we continue to grow our program, community engagement is important and we hope to continue making differences in the lives of students and others.

The UI REACH Advisory Board

Our board met on Nov. 7-8 here in the Lindquist Center to bid a fond farewell to two members and to welcome three new members. 

Susan Salter and Charles Sukup have served on the board since 2012 and have contributed to our success in so many ways. Many of you may recall the story featured in the College of Education magazine featuring Charles’ family and his son Andrew, who is a UI REACH alumnus. Charles and his family have also contributed generously to our scholarship fund.  Ms. Salter and her husband, former State Rep., Ro Foege have been long-term supporters of UI REACH. They have six children and 10 grandchildren. Their grandson graduated from the UI REACH program, Class of 2012. New board members include Dr. Susan Goldberg (Pediatrician whose daughter Ellie graduated from UI REACH in 2019), Derrick Willis (Director of Iowa’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities), and Tony Williams (CEO of W2A Issue Management Firm and father of 3rd year student, Josh).

Charles Sukup

Susan Salter


Student Internships

Student intern with UI REACH students
How time flies! Year 2-4 students will be finishing up their Fall internship placements after Thanksgiving Break. This semester, students worked in their chosen career fields of hospitality, childcare, customer service, retail, office, and parks and recreation.  Overall, UI REACH partnered with 23 different companies/campus partners in the Iowa City area.  The last day for Fall Internship is Dec. 6, 2019. UI REACH staff have already started working on placements for Spring 2020, and those announcements will be made when students return from winter break in January. Jack Emptage (center), who interns at Marriott in Coralville, is joined by Brady Hemmer, Sam Rame, Danny Huyer and Michael Vratsinas who were attending the Iowans With Disabilities “Make Your Mark” summit at the venue. 

We are excited to announce that we will be partnering with businesses in Des Moines, Iowa, to offer paid summer internships in the areas of clerical/office work and stadium operations. Summer internships are open to any second, third, or fourth-year student at UI REACH. Applications for these internships will be announced and accepted in January.  Students need not live in or near Des Moines as housing options are available for some summer internships.  If you have any questions about summer internships please contact Brian Campbell via email at brian-d-campbell@uiowa.edu or by phone at (319) 335-5227.

Research Corner

Students with Herky in front of Old Cap
Please help us to get feedback in a marketing survey by sharing the following information on your social media outlets, especially family forums of prospective students who may benefit from attending UI REACH. 

Provide us your feedback! The University of Iowa is conducting a survey to assist in ongoing planning efforts for its UI REACH program, a specialized college certificate program for students ages 18-25 with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities. The results of this survey will ensure that components of the program are aligned to the goals and needs of students and their families. Please take a few minutes today to add your voice to this important survey.

Rest assured that responses will remain anonymous and confidential; no personally identifiable information will be collected and results will only be reported in the aggregate.

Student and Family Resources

Opportunities for People with Disabilities: ABLE Account Ambassadorship, College Scholarships

UI REACH recently learned from ANCOR of two opportunities that students and families should keep on their radar for next year (application deadlines have already passed for this year). 

  • ABLE Account Ambassador: “The ABLE National Resource Center is seeking to identify ABLE account owners to participate as ABLE NRC Ambassadors in 2020. This will be our third cohort of ABLE Ambassadors. Click on the following links to learn more about our 2019 ABLE Ambassadors and our ABLE NRC Ambassador/Advisor Alumni. […] ABLE NRC Ambassadors receive a $500 contribution to their ABLE account at the end of the year, based on full participation in the Ambassador program. This includes all meetings, regularly scheduled interviews and submission of pictures that will be used to define the ABLE experience.
  • AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability (each scholarship is under $1,000).“The American Association on Health and Disability (www.aahd.us accepts applications each November for the Frederick J. Krause Scholarship for undergraduate students with disabilities who are majoring in a field related to disability and health.” Additional information and application form available here.

ANCOR is also a great resource for staying current with legislative priorities that are coming out of our nation’s capital. 

You Gotta Know

We are eternally grateful to current student and alumni parents who have been so very helpful to UI REACH over the past year. Parents have met us at recruitment events to tell their stories, recorded video testimonies, connected with prospective parents to offer their support, served on panels answering questions from prospective parents during the big tours, and provided input in our stakeholder feedback initiatives. One family arranged a series of meetings with several corporations, providers and prospective families to introduce UI REACH and broaden our network of partners. Yet another family connected us to a major donor source that will be crucial in our program improvement efforts. All of this is so helpful to our ability to achieve our mission, so a heartfelt THANK YOU to each of you for your contributions to making UI REACH great.

UI REACH staff sharing a fun moment at Halloween. “Hanging with My Gnomies”

UI REACH staff wearing gnome costumes.

Winter Calendar

Friday, November 22nd:  Thanksgiving Break begins.

Friday, November 29th, 2019 - deadline to submit student and family third and fourth year applications

Sunday, December 1st: Students may return to the halls after 1:00 pm.

Monday, December 2nd : Classes Resume

Friday, December 13th: Winter Break begins. Students check out of residence halls by 7 pm.

Sunday, January 19, 2020: Students may return to the halls after 1:00 pm.

Please refer to the CALENDAR page on our website for a full listing of events and additional details.

UI REACH News - November 2019

UI REACH staff contributors:

  • Brian Campbell
  • Lauren Bruno
  • Adam Miller
  • Kelsey Friday
  • Bill Loyd

UI REACH Newsletter Archive