Pathfinder Village, located near Edmeston, New York, is a residential community that provides educational opportunities for folks with Down syndrome. Founded in 1980, Pathfinder offers an independent living setting that “encourages family participation as it provides services to individuals.” Hannah Sosland, a rising junior at Colgate, is working with Pathfinder staff, and residents, during her Upstate Institute Field School Fellowship.
Working with supervisor Helen Stepowany, Hannah is contributing to the curriculum of a post-secondary vocational education program for students who have graduated from high school, but need additional training to enter the workplace. “Pathfinder is hoping to prepare students for successful and sustained employment following their completion of the program. My role in this process has been to research different aspects to better support the program design.”
Developing the continuing education program has been Hannah’s primary task, but being on site has allowed her to help out with other activities at Pathfinder; these have been rewarding, as well. “I’ve really enjoyed the mentoring program on Monday mornings in which I spend one-on-one time with a student in the garden, as well as going to Resident Advisory Committee meetings where residents learn about self-advocacy and hear how they have stood up for themselves and their friends.”
Working in the non-profit sector provides a great opportunity for students to apply classroom research skills. Hannah appreciated “……that the Field School is focused on non-proﬁts, as that is a sector I think I may be interested in working in, and I really enjoyed participating in doing the work for a program that has the potential to benefit people.” And, like most Field School Fellows, Hannah finds that engagement with organizations in the region involves stepping outside the college setting, which brings real rewards. “It is very easy to get caught up in school work and other aspects of Colgate during the school year, so a program that provides benefits to both the students and the community partners seemed like a unique and positive opportunity to me.”