The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

CPD receives IOTI grant for multicultural training

August 7, 2014 by Sue Reeves

image of JC vazquez

JC Vazquez

The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University has received an Interagency Outreach Training Initiative (IOTI) grant to provide multicultural training to service providers across the state.

According to JC Vazquez, the CPD’s multicultural co-ordinator, the training is designed to help professionals and paraprofessionals become aware of effective communication practices with diverse populations.

“We will go to rural and urban areas where agencies provide services to people with disabilities and to under-represented populations,” Vazquez said. The two-hour trainings will give an overview of cultural competency and explain the areas that should be taken into consideration when working with multicultural clients. Agencies can also request additional in-depth training on specific topics.

The one-year grant targets the areas of St. George, Moab, the Salt Lake area, the West Valley area, and Cache Valley, Vazquez said.

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Aggies Elevated receives USU Diversity Grant

August 5, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Students sitting on grass.

Aggies Elevated students at a recent orientation event.

Aggies Elevated, a new inclusive post-secondary education opportunity for young adults with intellectual disabilities, has received a three-year, $15,000 grant from the Utah State University Diversity Council. The program is located within the Center for Persons with Disabilities and will launch with eight students in the fall.

“I have to give credit to Alma Burgess, who informed me there was a grant available on campus from the Diversity Council,” said Shane Johnson, associate director of development for the CPD. “I thought it was a perfect fit.”

Johnson submitted the grant proposal in March and was notified in April that the grant had been awarded.

According to the USU Diversity Council’s web site, the council’s mission is to increase diversity among University faculty, administration and students, take intentional steps to improve the campus climate for underrepresented individuals and to support ongoing diversity and inclusion-related efforts that exist within the University and Cache Valley communities.

The purpose of the grant program is to support initiatives across the university system which align with the missions and goals of the University as well as those of the Diversity Council. The funds are designed to support both one-time programming and events, as well as long–term, one–to three–year projects that support the University’s mission, goals, and objectives related to diversity and inclusion.

Aggies Elevated is a two-year certificate program. Students will live on campus and attend classes with their neurotypical peers. The emphasis of the program is to build independent living skills and career exploration through internships so that the participants can live as independently as possible and engage in meaningful employment that they enjoy.


Your CPD summer reading list

July 25, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of gardeners planting plants

Earlier this year, volunteers helped DSL participants plant vegetables in the community garden.

It’s summer time, and the living is easy. If you need a little quiet time this week, in between trips to the lake and the mountains and the splash pads and the zoo, kick back with a cold beverage and your e-reader, and revisit some of these CPD-related stories. No, there won’t be a test.


Aggies Elevated: Dreams do come true

Youth learn to be ninja leaders

Spring break students receive robust experience

Blanding students spend a week in the AT lab


Graduate Student of the Year gets involved at DSL

Little things mean a lot


Ferrara named Alum of the Year

Harris named Student of the Year

Employee service awards

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Harris named “Student of the Year”

July 22, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of David Harris

David Harris

David Harris, who provides tech support for the Early Childhood Alternative Teacher Preparation program, has been named the 2014 “Student of the Year” at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with disabilities.

Harris, a computer science major who started working at the CPD in September 2009, provides support during the school year to students in the ECATP online classes, answering technical questions about Canvas or Adobe Connect. He also supports the one summer class, and helps with the week-long orientation workshop at the end of July.

“Over the past several years, your work on the Early Childhood Alternative Teacher Preparation program has helped move the project forward in a substantial way,” said Bryce Fifield, director of the CPD. “At the same time, you have been pursuing your own education and professional training. Your ability to keep a balance between these competing demands is no small achievement.”

Harris’ future plans include moving to California to be closer to family. He hopes to find work in the technology fields of artificial intelligence or augmented reality.


Ferrara named “Alum of the Year”

July 17, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of Ferrara

Dr. Joseph Ferrara

Dr. Joseph Ferrara has been named the 2014 “Alum of the Year” by Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Ferrara was a graduate research assistant from 1976-1978, did post-doctoral study in 1983-1984, and was an associate research professor from 1984-1991. He left the CPD for a position at the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University.

“In 1988, an old friend from graduate school, Steve Ragan, called from Minot and asked if he could use my vita in a proposal for a new University Affiliated Program,” Ferrara said. University Affiliated Programs are now called University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs).

Ferrara told his friend the proposal wouldn’t have much chance of funding and forgot about it. The proposal failed, but Ragan revised it and resubmitted it. When it was approved, Ragan offered Ferrara a job in Minot. Ferrara said he wasn’t interested.

“When I got home, I told my wife Alane that Steve had called and offered me a job,” Ferrara said.  “She asked if the North Dakota job would involve much travel.  When I said that there would be little or no travel, she produced a calendar that showed that my work at the CPD had taken me away from home way too many times.”

They made the move from Utah to North Dakota.

“When I came to Minot, in the fall of 1991, the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabiliites had two full-time employees,” Ferrara said. “When Steve’s proposal was funded, it more than doubled the University’s overall soft-money budget. Working with great people, to build NDCPD into a viable member of the UCEDD network, was a labor of love.”

Ferrara retired from NDCPD in 2012 as associate director of development. He was also a faculty member in the Department of Communication Disorders and Special Education.

He recently reflected on his time at Utah State University.

“After I had sold my home in Logan, and moved my family to Minot, I came back to Logan to complete my final two weeks as a USU employee,” he said. “During that time, CPD staff and faculty felt sorry for me and could not fight a compulsion to feed me. In those two weeks I was fed by friends, attended going away parties every night, and gained 15 pounds. I’ll always cherish the memory of the kindness of my CPD family.”

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