SPEAKER: Inclusive Higher Education.
TAMMY: Welcome, everyone. I’m Tammy Berberi, MCD council member, and I’m happy to join this event today from my office at the University of Minnesota, Morris, where I teach.
MARY HAUFF: A national inclusive higher education movement began in 2008 to expand college options for students with intellectual disabilities. Minnesota is lagging behind. Students with intellectual disabilities who attend post-secondary education are more than twice as likely to be employed, live in homes of their own, and rely less on government supports like SSI and vocational rehabilitation.
Widening the pathway to post-secondary education will ensure Minnesotans with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to pursue their careers, live the life of their choice, and more fully contribute to their communities. This will strengthen the Minnesota workforce, contribute to the Minnesota economy, and lead to long term cost savings for the state.
We are determined to widen the path for students with an intellectual disability to have access to post-secondary education, a gateway to opportunity that has been narrow and impassable for far too long. We are advocating for the passage of the Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Act to support Minnesotans with an intellectual disability and make inclusive higher education a priority.
GAGE: Hi. My name is Gage Robinson. It has always been my goal to go to college. School has always not been easy for me. In my younger years, I spent most of my day in a self-contained classroom. I love to learn. I just learn differently, and it may take me a little longer.
Currently, my options are limited. I need more choices to go to college and be successful. I want to be seen as capable. I am. I want to keep learning. I am a lifelong learner. I am more than a disability.
I am a son, a brother, a nephew, a friend, an athlete, a self advocate, a public speaker, a non-profit leader, a woodworker, a prospective college student.
I am advocating for expanding inclusive college options for students with an intellectual disability like me. All Minnesotans with an intellectual disability are worth it. Thank you.
MARY: Senator Hoffman, we want to welcome you to our conversation. And we thank you for your ongoing support for the Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Act legislation.
SEN. HOFFMAN: When Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better when we all do better.” “We all” means we all, right? We’ve got to be inclusive about our conversations.
I know as the incoming Chair of Human Services, I don’t know all my jurisdictions, but I will guarantee you this: Intersectionality and conversations, about how we’re doing and what we’re doing, and how we’re including people with disabilities across the spectrum is gonna be key and priority in my life. And it has been since my days in the Bush administration in 2001 to 2004, when I was on the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council.
I love the fact that you, you know what, disability is just a normal, natural occurrence in Minnesota, and in the world, and in the nation, right, and you’re saying, you just want to be there and do what you want with other people. There’s an inclusivity in that, and I appreciate your words. And I appreciate you, so thanks, Gage.
GAGE: You’re–thank you.