When the university she attended dropped its program for students with disabilities, Haley Sulahian transferred to Adelphi for the support she needs.
Haley Sulahian, 21, was born with cerebral palsy, a brain disorder that affects balance, movement and muscle tone. At Adelphi, she’s working on a bachelor’s degree in social work, hoping her experiences with the challenges she’s faced can serve as an example to her future clients.
Adelphi wasn’t her first school, but it’s where she’s found the support to complete her studies.
Sulahian needs aides to help her with everyday tasks such as showering, dressing and getting into her wheelchair, and to support her in the classroom. She originally enrolled in a small Pennsylvania university, but the school ended a program for students with disabilities. Had she stayed, she would have had to hire the aides herself, difficult to do in a small town 500 miles from her family in Shelter Island, New York.
“It was a tough decision to leave [the other school], but I wanted to be closer to my dad so he could help out if I needed him,” she said. “I also needed a school that had a program to address my needs so I could complete my degree.”
Adelphi is known for its programs for students with disabilities.
“[Adelphi] gives me extra time for tests, lets my aides come to class to take notes for me, and has the desks I need,” she said. “The faculty have been supportive by walking me through every step of the process. If I have any questions, they or the Student Access Office answer them fast, which is great,” Sulahian said.
Adelphi’s location in greater New York City has helped, too, because it’s been easy for Sulahian to hire aides.
“I was able to line up four or five attendants easily,” she says. “And if an aide doesn’t show up, my dad can cover because he’s close-ish.”
Sulahian has joined a group for transfer students and is meeting others who are new to Adelphi. While one of her friends from her old school transferred to Adelphi, she’s basically starting over again socially.
“It’s tough when you transfer, because you have to make new friends,” Sulahian said. “I live on campus in a normal dorm because I don’t need any special equipment, and I have a roommate, which I didn’t have at my last school, so that helps with meeting people.”
She says her dad is moving to Brooklyn to be closer to her, and that makes her happy.
Sulahian has already landed an on-campus internship as an academic coach for the Bridges to Adelphi program, working with incoming students who are on the autism spectrum. Once she has her degree, she wants to work in a hospital or school with children with disabilities.
“There are so many kids facing tough circumstances,” she says. “My experience makes me want to let other children know they aren’t alone with their challenges. I want to be one of the people who help them.”
She has found people at Adelphi who have been there for her, and she wants to pass along the good.
“If not for Adelphi, it would have been harder to finish my degree,” she says. “To me, it means everything that I can finish my degree. Adelphi is helping me realize I can do anything I put my mind to despite being in a wheelchair.”
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