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Profiles
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campus, she explained. "We help ICE students transition to a college
environment helping them with their homework before or after
class, have lunch, go to the gym, and just spending time socializing on
campus," she said.
Started in 2013, MCC's ICE Program is supported by a state-funded
grant awarded to Middlesex in partnership with LABBB (Lexington,
Arlington, Burlington, Bedford, Belmont) Special Education
Collaborative and Bedford Public Schools. Grant funds support
creating inclusive environments for students to succeed academically,
personally and professionally.
In addition to having access to Peer Mentors, ICE students receive
specialized enrollment, registration and academic advising, community-
based employment and career support, and educational coaches.
ICE students have full access to MCC clubs, student activities, the
Fitness Center, and academic and support services.
"When people find out what I do, they will often say to me, `Oh it is
great students with disabilities have an opportunity to go to college.'
But I don't see it as an opportunity it's their right," she said. "Being
a Peer Mentor is considered work, but to me it's just spending time
with friends."
Working with ICE students inspired Llorente Gonzalez to start a student
club. In the fall of 2015, she founded the ICE Program Peers (ICEPP)
Club on campus. The club currently has about 12 members a mix
of ICE students and ICE Peer Mentors. Llorente Gonzalez serves as
president, and an ICE student serves as vice president.
"A lot of people think it's easy to start and run a club," said Llorente
Gonzalez. "But this isn't your typical club. There are a lot of things
to consider. Going outside a normal routine can be very challenging
for people with disabilities. Planning activities takes extra time and
thought, but that's the interesting part."
Among the first ICEPP activities held were two end-of-semester pizza
parties. "It was a chance for ICE students and Peer Mentors to get
together to discuss the semester and celebrate their success," she
said. "ICE students got to showcase their artwork and final projects.
A lot of people participated, Dawn Gross, ICE Program Coordinator,
and Susan Woods, Associate Dean of Student Support Services, were
there, as well as educational coaches, friends, and my advisor. It was
really fun."
For Llorente Gonzalez, the best part of working with the ICE Program
is the relationships that form between ICE students, herself, and other
students on campus.
"I'll be hanging out with ICE students and some of my friends will come
up, introduce themselves, and then in a few weeks I'll see ICE students
and my friends hanging out. That's the best part," she explained. "They
build true and natural relationships between one another without my
assistance. It's really rewarding to see ICE students having a true
college experience just like everyone else. "
After graduating this spring, Llorente Gonzalez plans to continue her
education to pursue a degree in special education. She is considering
working with people living with autism or Asperger's syndrome.
"Middlesex helped me realize that I definitely want to work in special
education," she said. "ICE students inspire me. I want to learn all I can,
so I can apply it to helping them."
Tura Linderholm
Llorente Gonzalez is a Peer Mentor in the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment (ICE) Program, helping high school students with intellectual disabilities adjust to the college environment.
Student Profile