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Student Spotlight: Nathan Williams

Nathan W.
The transition to college can be hard for any student and sometimes for UI REACH students it can even more challenging. There are new classes, perhaps having a roommate for the first time, living in a large residence hall with thousands of other people, and new rules and policies to follow. Here at UI REACH we have found the transition can be made easier if a student gets involved in activities offered on campus in addition to their UI REACH activities. First year student Nathan Williams has fully immersed himself in the college experience and has seen some success already in the first month of attending UI REACH!

Nathan loves sports and loves to be active. Throughout his high school career Nathan competed in bowling and tennis at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, IA. Nathan has previously bowled a 300, and it is perhaps his favorite memory of any sport. Nathan said, “It was at the Cedar Rapids Bowling Center during a Glow-In-The-Dark Bowling Night. I have a print out of that score and game!” Nathan says he likes bowling and tennis equally, but had been doing tennis a bit longer because he started playing for fun with his mother and sister in middle school.

Nathan told his UI REACH advisor that he wanted to join both the bowling club and tennis club as soon as he could and that he wanted to try to be a part of the competitive teams of the clubs if possible. Nathan showed off his skill to the University of Iowa bowling club members at tryouts, and made the competitive team that travels to tournaments in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa! When asked what he likes best about the bowling club, Nathan responded, “I like to travel and I like to meet new people on the team and at events.” Nathan traveled to Minneapolis with the Bowling Club on the weekend of September 24-25, and he had a great time with everyone.

Nathan has also found ways to participate in tennis at the University of Iowa!

While Nathan missed the try-outs for the competitive team tennis club in August, he still wanted to be a part of the tennis club for the practice, social aspects, and the opportunities to play matches locally. If there is an opportunity to try out for the competitive team in the future, Nathan says he would really like to go for it.

Nathan will continue to enjoy UI REACH activities like basketball and dodgeball when he can and also be social with UI REACH students and traditional students. Nathan says he is also enjoying his classes at UI REACH and spending time with his roommate. It is an exciting time for Nathan Williams and he is certainly making the most of his experience at UI REACH.


The UI REACH EXTEND board came up with the idea of starting a fund to help needy students and alumni attend ReConnect events.  UI REACH has established a fund at the UI Foundation to gather donations.  All donations will be tax deductible.  We will refer to this fund as the EXTEND Grant.  Please be sure to mark any donation as “EXTEND Grant.

Mike and Kate Williams have generously offered to match the first $5000 generated for this fund.  So every dollar you donate will actually become $2 to help a needy student.  We will send out additional information as we get closer to our next ReConnect event.

Career Corner

Fall 2016 Internships Announced and Year 1 Field Trips

REACH Internships
Fall internship locations were announced on Monday, September 12th for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year students! It was touching to see the positivity and support that all students exhibited for each other as each internship interview location was announced. Interviews and start dates are staggered throughout the last couple weeks of September and first few weeks of October. Interviews and start dates are purposely staggered so that UI REACH staff can personally accompany each and every student to their interview and first day of the internship. Internships are often a chance to try out something new and are a wonderful opportunity to build workplace readiness skills regardless of the setting.

Fall internships run through December 2nd and students are expected to work the Friday before Thanksgiving break unless they have travel plans out of state.  To help prepare students for employment after their time in UI REACH, students practice how companies handle vacation and sick time. Each semester, students will have one vacation day and two sick days as excused absences. Typically, students use their vacation day if they need to travel the Friday before Thanksgiving Break or on any other day when going home for a weekend. Students need to follow the vacation request procedures as part of class.

1st year students will be taking field trips to businesses around Iowa City and Coralville in October and November. Field trips are a chance to practice dressing up in interview attire, riding public transportation, interacting with employers, and seeing first-hand what is involved in working in positions such as health care, clerical, retail, food service and more. 1st year students are expected to dress in interview attire for field trips, such as khakis or dress pants, with a nice collared shirt or polo and dress shoes.

Career Focus Area

Upon completing UI REACH, students will earn a general certificate of completion. Students also have the option of adding a “Career Focus Area” to their certificate.

In order to earn the optional Career Focus Area on the UI REACH certificate, students need to complete the following steps:

  1. Complete the “Request to Declare a Career Focus Area” form. Submit the request to Ms. Deb no later than November 30 of their second or third year. Email Ms. Deb to request form.
  2. With the assistance of the Career Development staff, develop a “Career Focus Plan.”  The requirements for a Career Focus Plan are:
    • Complete a minimum of 60 internship work hours in the Career Focus Area and
    • Complete a one credit career seminar course in the career focus or related area (with a grade of B or higher). If a career seminar is not available in your desired area, you may complete an independent study project or take a UI or community college course to meet this requirement.

If you have any questions about the Career Focus Area endorsement or if you would like a copy of the application, please contact Deborah Larson by email at deborah-larson@uiowa.edu or by phone at 319-335-5449.

Transition Planning

The next step for defining individual student transition needs will be through homework that students and families will complete in late fall. The UI REACH Career & Transition staff have begun the process of identifying the major areas of post-graduation supports for each student. Parents are asked to help by completing the “Planning for Transition: Initial Survey for Year 2/3 Families” that will be sent out towards the end of the semester.

Each student will have unique needs. For instance, graduates may need minimal or significant support in areas such as money management, obtaining a job, or self-advocacy. In the spring semester, students will conduct research and develop a plan which identifies their transition goals and home area resources. After graduation, the UI REACH Transition staff will work as a team to provide consultation, references, problem-solving, and recommendations to guide students (and their support networks) in establishing more independent lifestyles.

Over winter break, second- and third-year families will be receiving an email asking about availability to attend their student’s Transition Meeting. Transition Meetings are scheduled for the last few weeks of April 2017; on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Community Learning Groups
Community Learning Groups

UI REACH first- and second-year students are enjoying further exploring their interests and gaining new interests during this semester’s community learning groups. The groups include: knitting, robotics, puzzles, creative arts, harmonica, walking group, and dorm room cooking. Be sure to ask a UI REACH student what they have enjoyed about their community learning group this semester!

Homecoming Parade

UI REACH Homecoming
The UI REACH Students and alumni were happy to participate in the University of Iowa Homecoming Parade for the first time! The parade had 135 groups walking or riding in their floats in downtown Iowa City.

UI REACH had about 25 current students and 15 alumni walk and pass out candy for the Homecoming festivities. UI REACH students and alumni marched throughout the streets of downtown interacting with the crowds of people filling the sidewalks during the exciting event. This was a great opportunity for current students to participate in a community event and for our alumni to revisit their alma mater. We hope to continue to be involved in this event year after year!

U-Bill Reminder

Remember to check your student’s U-Bill each month even if you previously paid the balance in full.  Any student with a past due balance may be restricted from charging to their U-Bill or registering for spring 2017.

Activity Night

The UI REACH students are staying busy thanks to a new activity format. This fall students will have a wider variety of activities to choose from over multiple nights per week. UI REACH reformatted its activity calendar to offer two choices on Monday night, two choices on Wednesday night, and three choices on Thursday night. This change comes after students requested more opportunities for fun activities on and around campus. Monday nights always offer a craft option, Wednesday nights always offer a game night, Thursday nights include the always popular dodgeball and new this year: an Art Class. Weekends offer one activity on Friday night, one on Saturday, and Downtown Dinner on Sunday night. Pictures from special events can be found on the UI REACH Twitter and Facebook page.

Life Skills I

Colorful Choices and Strides are two of the programs offered to University Students through the Recreation and Wellness Center. The Life Skills I students decided to participate in this 20 day challenge. The first week was the base setting week. Each individual then took their base numbers and identified personal goals that related to steps taken and healthy food choices involving fruits and vegetables. Prizes are awarded to anyone that completes the program by tracking both their steps and healthy food choices. Prizes will be awarded to all students that track their steps and food choices every week for the month of October. Hopefully we are all on our way to healthier lifestyles!

Reading groups
Reading Groups

One of the favorite classes each week for both the students and instructors is Reading Groups on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This involves nine instructors with nine different groups of students all reading different books. Each group works on different aspects of reading including use of context clues, comprehension strategies, vocabulary, as well as just enjoying the “reading club” atmosphere and discussing the books with their peers. Some of the books that students are enjoying this semester are: Holes, Al Capone Does My Shirts, The Mailbox, and Out of My Mind.