Hello UI REACH family!

It is our pleasure to bring you this 2021-22 academic year in review, wherein we recap some of the exciting developments and achievements that were initiated this year. I’m sure that you will share our excitement about the many accomplishments achieved this year. We are so grateful to all of our UI REACH stakeholders/family members who make our work possible and who make us shine.

As you read through this edition, if you see areas where you may have skills or connections that can further our efforts, please don’t hesitate to email me and share this valuable information. We love new and expanded partnerships. Please enjoy a happy and safe summer, and we look forward to communicating even bigger and better things in the year to come.


Bill Loyd

Your Future is Within REACH

Our Vision:
Empowered and self-directed individuals who are included in communities that embrace people of all abilities.

Our Mission:
Cultivating individualized supports and opportunities that promote advocacy and success in everyday life


REACH mission and vision graphic

Class of 2022

On May 6th, UI REACH held its 13th annual convocation exercise at the Courtyard Marriott at Kinnick Stadium. We celebrated 18 outstanding students who completed program requirements and have now launched exciting lives in their communities of choice. Congratulations and best wishes to all of our graduates!

Program: PDF (printable)Word (accessible). Ceremony recording.

Group of students wearing graduation gowns standing on a football field
2022 graduates: Robbie Axline, Jack Devlin, Madison Dolliff, Skylar Glandon, Edmund Grant, Carolyn Graunke, Jennifer Jex, Michael Maigaard, Ava Mondi, April Olsen, Griffin Ranney, Alexander Senanou, Dalton Sichterman, Alona Staab, Theodore Suess, Adam Webber, Joshua Williams, Drew Yost
Decorated mortar board.
UI REACH students followed the longstanding tradition of adding a special touch to their graduation caps.
Students at a graduation event.
Five of our grads (Alexander Senanou, Joshua Williams, Theodore Suess IV, Alona Staab, and Skylar Glandon) also participated at the university-wide celebration on May 15th, marking our second year of participation in that event.
Decorated mortar board.
UI REACH students followed the longstanding tradition of adding a special touch to their graduation caps.

Summer Orientation 2022

Group seated in an auditorium

Immediately after a beautiful convocation, our attention turned to next year’s entering class. On May 23-24, 2022, orientation was held for students entering the program in Fall 2022. More than 65 students, family members (and Herky!) gathered on campus for the Summer Orientation with great excitement about joining the UI REACH family this fall.


New students from 10 states

First time waiting list for fall enrollment!


returning students


students expected this fall

Largest enrollment in UI REACH history!

Focus Area Updates

It has been a very busy and productive year here at UI REACH! Just a few highlights from each focus area are provided below.

Career and Transition

Team: Jennifer Cremers, Michael Petkewec, Erin Berkowitz, Brett Koenig, and Mary Patton

  • 44 Internship Sites this year (22 paid, 21 off campus)
  • C&T staff facilitated Disability Awareness training for 13 of our internship sites
  • C&T staff made more than 350 internship site visits this year
  • Graduating students conducted amazing presentations of their transition plans and e-portfolios during the last two weeks of the spring 2022 semester
  • Career Center piloted to assist students with finding summer employment
  • Partnership with athletics was expanded to include Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball, and Marketing
  • WorkKeys Certifications to date: Gold- 3, Silver-17, Bronze 35
  • Iowa Workforce Development partnership resulted in a reverse job fair (12 employers/63 students), and expanded access to funds for job related certifications at a local community college
  • C&T is preparing for accreditation through CARF in three employment related areas
Person standing in a office setting
Maddie Dolliff completes office tasks at her internship site.
Person standing next to a scooter in a showroom.
Eddie Grant at retail internship site.

Student Support

Students standing on a street, holding a UI REACH parade banner.
Rays of REACH students and staff line up for the 2021 Homecoming Parade.

Team: Kim Hanrahan and Kate Fox

  • The transition to Student Support Teams (SST) was successful
  • SSTs piloted the use of Microsoft Teams for documentation of student support needs and interventions. SSTs averaged more than 400 student contacts each month.
  • Each month, each SST recognized a student who was doing well with a SPOT award
  • Kate Fox and Annie Crooks were hired to expand supports offered to students in evening and weekend hours. Both are making a huge difference in after-hours access to staff for students.
  • Friendship and Relationship small group sessions were offered using the PEERS curriculum to support students who struggled socially.  More than 60 hours of support was offered in the groups. 
  • Rays of REACH was revitalized under the leadership of Annie Crooks and Kendal Best. The student organization participated in the UI Homecoming Parade, community service and campus beautification partnerships, and participated in disability awareness partnerships, and social event partnerships.

Student Life

Team: – Amy Vander-Busard, Kelsey Friday, Adam Miller, Kendal Best, Annie Crooks

  • As an alternative to staff-led activities, the SL team assisted 41 students to plan for and implement 59 student-led activities this year
  • Forty-nine students were individually paired with mentors who assisted with skill building, goal implementation, and accessing campus/community resources
  • Resident Assistant (RA) supports were expanded to include enhanced documentation, activity planning, issue resolution and policy input. Kendal Best is doing an amazing job in supporting our RAs.
  • Piloted room sharing with traditional students for two UI REACH students
  • Largest to date year 3 and 4 cohort of 17 students at Mayflower Residence Hall
  • Offered 12 new independent living workshops including campus navigation, personal care, personal hygiene, and intro to cooking
  • Thirty year 1 and year 2 students graded out of room checks
  • Rays of REACH was revitalized under the leadership of Annie Crooks and Kendal Best. The student organization participated in the UI Homecoming Parade, community service and campus beautification partnerships, and participated in disability awareness partnerships, and social event partnerships.
People participating an indoor fitness class.
UI REACH students staying active at a CRWC fitness class.
Person showing a salmon dish.
Jennifer Jex shows off a dish she prepared in Household Management class.


Team: Jordan Immerfall, Amanda Kunkle, Jordan Willits, Jenny McGinn, and Gianna Marshall

  • UI REACH students enrolled in 95 credit hours this year, achieving nearly a 75% year-over-year increase
  • Co-created fall 22 integrated course option with Counselor Education in the College of Education. The new class replaced a UI REACH career course requirement.
  • UI REACH Academic Associates provided 1:1 support to students in integrated coursework this year – another UI REACH first.
  • UI REACH staff partnered with the Office of Teaching and Learning and Student Disability Services to provide interdepartmental resources and onboarding support for faculty/instructors teaching UI REACH students in integrated classes.
Students in college classroom.
UI REACH students and instructor Amanda Kunkle hard at work in the classroom. 
students in a classroom
: In person and virtual instruction in use at UI REACH.

Alumni Support

Team: Brian Campbell

  • UI REACH launched a new online applied math classes via UI LEARN. This class will enable enrolled alumni to increase scores on the applied math section of WorkKeys.
  • Extended partnership with Iowa Workforce Development by creating new training and certification options for UI REACH alumni
  • Brian Campbell became an Iowa City/Coralville Chamber of Commerce ambassador, thereby expanding our interaction with local businesses
  • Registration for the July 2022 ReConnect Event in Minneapolis, Minnesota is now closed with more than 75 registrants. UI REACH alumni, current students, and incoming students and families will come together for three days of exciting events and opportunities to meet their fellow UI REACH family members.
A group at a picnic.
Over 100 attended the UI REACH 2021 in City Park in Iowa City.
People riding a carousel
Ava Mondi, Lauren Adam, Adam Webber, and Brian Campbell enjoy a ride on the carousel at the Chicago Zoo.

Program Evaluation and Research

Team: Erica Kaldenberg, Jake Herring

  • Development and distribution of permanent products including: the establishment of the UI REACH Data Dashboard; the First Summer 2022 UI REACH Research Bulletin; a series of stakeholder specific briefs that include pertinent UI REACH information and data highlights. 
  • In the past academic year, UI REACH established 26 program goals as a part of a comprehensive program evaluation system. Only 3 (11.5%) of the goals were not achieved due to the hard work and commendable efforts of our stellar staff.
  • A few highlights of the achievements are as follows:
    • 96% Student Satisfaction (May 2022) via the End-of-the-Semester Survey: students reported being either very satisfied or satisfied with their overall UI REACH experience  
    • 100% Parent Satisfaction (January 2022) via the UI REACH Winter Break Parent/Guardian Check-In Survey: parents reported being either very satisfied or satisfied with their students’ overall UI REACH experience  
  • RESEARCH - Implementation of a new research protocol to help us disseminate research opportunities to stakeholders and to meaningfully identify annual research projects.
  • Internal UI REACH Research Projects Fall 2021-Spring 2022  (results are pending)
    • Project 1: ACT WorkKeys® Applied Math--assessed the impact of instructional supports on student National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC) scores. 
    • Project 2: UI REACH Alumni Outcomes—comparison of graduate outcomes to data gathered by the American Community Survey, United States Census Bureau. Metrics include: work experience, employment status, occupation, transportation mode to and from work, educational attainment, earnings in the past 12-months, health insurance coverage status, and other comparative social characteristics.  
  • External Faculty Research Partnership (results are pending)
    • Project 3: Data Mountain—Lisa Didion, assistant professor in Special Education, supervised a research study that further explored the efficacy of a self-determination program on reading fluency and self-determined learning behaviors for a select group of students.  


Advocacy in Action

UI REACH students soared to new heights in self-advocacy this year.  A group of five students attended the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC March 27-30, 2022. Students learned of legislation that impacts persons with disabilities during the first two days of the seminar, and then shared their stories on how the legislation impacted their lives personally. Students had face time with Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley during the visit. UI REACH joined the ILEND program trainees at the Center for Developmental Disabilities for this wonderful experience. Participants included Mia Able, Lily O’Brien, Sebastien Janelle, Adam Conner, and Binh Nguyen. Thanks to the generosity of Rick Conner, the group was also able to enjoy a Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls basketball game at the Cellular One Arena in D.C

Joni Ernst with a group.
UI REACH Students visited with Senator Joni Ernst during the 2022 Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC.
UI REACH student council members enjoy a trip to China Town
UI REACH student council members enjoy a trip to China Town in Washington, DC during DC Policy Seminar 2022.

On March 31, 2022, students Sebastien Janelle and Michael Maigaard were among the many Hawkeyes to visit the state capitol in Des Moines to share the news about exciting developments at UI with state legislators.  While there, we were able to personally thank our champion, Representative Chad Ingles, who sponsored legislation for the establishment of a scholarship fund for students with disabilities who wish to attend programs like UI REACH in Iowa. Representative Ingels’ daughter, Kamryn, completed the UI REACH Program two years ago, so he knows firsthand how beneficial the program can be. The legislation was stalled in the senate and did not pass, but we are eternally grateful to Rep. Ingles for keeping the higher education needs of students with disabilities in mind. We look forward to continued advocacy on this issue in the next legislative session.

People at Hawkeye Caucus event.
UI REACH students and instructor Amanda Kunkle hard at work in the classroom. 
People pose with University of Iowa mascot at a caucus event.
Michael Maigaard, Sebastien Janelle, and Herkey share a smile at Hawkeye Caucus Day 2022.

Awards and Appreciation

SPOT winners 2021-2022

Congratulations to the following students and staff who were honored with the SPOT award during the past academic year. Staff are nominated for the award by leadership, and students are nominated by their Student Support Teams (SST).

Student winners

  • October 2021 Alona Staab, Janson Turner, Griffin Ranney, and Theodore Suess 
  • November/December 2021 - Chris Berdecia, Meg Barinka, Robbie Axline, and Adam Weber 
  • January 2022 – Connor Muston, Aaron Dunn, Andrew Whitehead, Leah Harrington, and Lyric Nolin  
  • February 2022 - Annika Almquist, Reece Murray, Emily Garrelts, Ava Mondi, and Drew Yost 
  • March 2022 - Zoee Stamps, Alex Senanou, Drew Chesney, Sam Crowe, and Cooper Reaves
  • April 2022 - Josh Baker, Binh Nguyen, Ethan Jones, Adam Connor, and Anne Garcia  

Kudos to Adam Miller for receiving the Community Builder Award presented at the annual Iowa Association of Community Providers Conference and Trade Show in Ames, Iowa on May 14, 2022. Adam was one of six people honored. We're proud of you, Adam. Keep up the good work. 

Adam Miller receives Community Builder award

UI REACH also applauds Jordan Immerfall for being appointed as the College of Education representative on the UI Staff Council! Immerfall’s appointment is for three years in this prestigious role. He follows other UI REACH staffers like Jim Verry, who previously served on the UI Council, and Brian Campbell, who currently serves on the College of Education Staff Council. UI REACH is impacting campus in so many ways and that means greater acceptance for our students. 

Additional kudos and thanks to our administrative support team, Jim Verry and Olivia Frick, on supporting ALL of UI REACH throughout the year. They bring new meaning to the words “service with a smile.”

We could not do what we do without the support of our mentors, academic support specialists, resident assistants, therapeutic recreation interns, and many volunteers. Your support to our students is enabling them to be their very best and achieve their dreams.

UI REACH parents and families are the best! In the past year, many of them have assisted by being on a parent panel during our tours, sponsored events for students and staff, helped to spread the word about UI REACH, and followed up with students on areas of achievement or areas needing improvement with our students. Thank you for being some of UI REACH’s #1 fans! UI REACH donors have assisted us to be able to provide more than $175,000 in scholarship support during the academic year. Donors have also enabled us to invest in the program by purchasing a data management system, funding marketing and recruitment efforts, sponsoring several staff positions, and providing additional funding for staff professional development. Your generosity and support continue to say “Your Future is Within REACH” in tangible ways.

UI REACH in the News

Read the story on Jack Devlin’s amazing half-court shot that was published by sports columnist and parent of a UI REACH alumni, Greg Dwyer.  Thanks for your continued efforts to spread the word about UI REACH, Greg!

Devlin’s story was also published in an article in the Daily Iowan and he was interviewed on The Rally, a Twitter Media Studio feature.

UI REACH alumni, Danny McGregor Huyer’s award winning photography is featured in the DAILY IOWAN, where McGregor Huyer works parttime. Upon completion of the UI REACH program, he applied for and was accepted into the Cinematic Arts program at UI. You may also recall some of his work that appears in several of the UI REACH videos. McGregor Huyer now proudly serves on the UI REACH advisory board and he serves as an advisor to the UI REACH student council.  Way to go, Danny! Here are a few ways that UI REACH is having an impact on the lives of our students and families.

In a spring semester Lifetime Literacy class students and instructor, Gianna Marshall, discussed the “Pound the Rock” quote from Jacob Riis and how we have to chip away at our goals every day and not give up even when it gets hard. Student Marvin “Reece” Murray shared his thoughts as follows:

One big goal I have set for myself this semester is to improve my social skills. Looking back on last semester, I noticed that while I still was attending activities here and there, I was spending the vast majority of my time outside of class chilling in the man-cave that is my dorm room doing all the sorts of things I did before I came to REACH, and will still have time to be able to do after. 

I recognized that I’m not going to be at campus forever and that I should be using that time to interact and engage with other students and form solid memories of the people I meet here as much as I can, to seize my opportunity to do things I couldn’t do in my spare time at home. As such, I have been trying to attend more activities and other social interaction events with other students this semester.

Thus far, it has been going pretty great! I’ve already had a few dinner meetings with Chris Berdecia before we head to EPX on Friday evenings. I was the one who told about the activity and he was very interested, and our Friday dinner chats have been going great ever since. I now hope to maybe start inviting other students such as Xander to dinner with me. He likes video games like me and Chris, so I think he might be interested in EPX too!

Another important step in improving my social goals was successfully planning and hosting my own activity. I wanted to do something fun the day before my birthday, and I figured a trip to a store called Video Games Etc. would be fun. After 2 previous failed attempts of hosting an activity, I had learned a lot about activity planning and took notes on how to plan my activity and talked with my mentor about it.

I was getting a little nervous about any transportation confusions and figuring out what time to meet in order to get to the bus on time, let alone which would be the proper bus to get on to get to our destination. In the end, though, that was all sorted out and the trip was a success! I was happy seeing that the students that came with me were enjoying their time on the trip, and tears of joy welled in my eyes when they sang happy birthday to me at the end of the trip while we waited for the bus. 

My birthday gift this year was more valuable than any new game. It was a sense of confidence in my ability to host activities and engage with other students, and coupled with the surprises I was in for the following day with a dinner with family and a gift of cookies from my roommate when I got back, it's a birthday that I’m (hopefully) never going to forget! I am going to strive to keep hanging with other students as much as I can, and I do already have a few other activity ideas in mind now!

Quotes from UI REACH Families

We see such a tremendous difference in him even over the past few months. He is maturing in a way that would not have occurred without you and the REACH program. We look forward to one more year:) -Nancy Boyle

We are so grateful and blessed that Jack, and our entire family, have been a small part of the UI REACH experience. The REACH program, and all those who make it happen day in and day out, are special. The kudos and recognition are well deserved. We can’t thank you & your amazing program enough. You all do incredible work!  We need to continue to get the word out. Erin and Matt DevlinI get weepy just thinking about graduation.  I do not want it to end. -Cindi Williams

You guys are doing great things there, and the program seems to be focusing more on the individual progress and victories of its students.  Keep up your great work. -Greg Dwyer, Katie's dad. Greg was assisting another family in applying for UI REACH and wrote a beautiful article on the program. 

The program is really good and I love where Sebastien is at in it.  The program is individualized and should be.  As the portion of an old phrase says "it takes a village" really comes to light with programs like this.  -Monica Janelle

Again, thank you for the kind and caring actions from the REACH group. We are so grateful REACH was there for her.  -Jacquii and Jay Olson