AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – Auburn University’s EAGLES program personifies The Auburn Creed as students with intellectual disabilities are embraced on campus while living the college experience.
The relatively new program is allowing Auburn University traditional students, faculty, and staff another opportunity to live out the Auburn Creed by reaching out a hand to an under-served population in our community.
“I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow man and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all…I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.”The Auburn Creed, George Petrie
Auburn University students with intellectual disabilities are now able to live and learn The Auburn Creed, too.
EAGLES stands for Education to Accomplish Growing in Life Experiences for Success. The program is a two or four-year comprehensive transition program for students, which includes AU credit-bearing courses, as well as program courses focused on improving student’s independent living and employment outcomes.
Dillion Kent is one of eight Auburn Eagles Students enrolled in the program who are experiencing every aspect of college life on Auburn’s campus.
“Making new friends and living in the dorm is my favorite. I really want to be independent and live on my own, ” shared Kent.
Dr. Betty Patten is the Director of the Eagles Program and an Assistant Clinical Professor with the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation and Counseling.
“The overall goal of the EAGLES program is to provide an inclusive higher education program for students with intellectual disabilities to gain the full college experience while learning how to live independent and increase their employment preparation skills so they can gain and maintain employment upon completion. The program also increases personal social skills development, and they are living out the Auburn Creed and learning how to be Auburn men and women,” shared Dr. Patten.
From living in the dorms to taking credit-based classes, it’s clear EAGLES students crave independence.
EAGLES are paired with traditional AU students called WINGS, who serve as academic, health, social, and life skills mentors as EAGLES spread their wings.
The opportunities are endless for both EAGLES and WINGS students.
Auburn University colleges, programs, and student activity groups welcome EAGLES students into the fold. EAGLES students can join in on just about every AU experience imaginable.
“I am a member of AU Singers, and I am also a Diamond Doll,” shared Anna Moates, AU EAGLE student.
The EAGLES program includes coursework, work-training, social skills development, as well as independent living experiences. The goal of the program is to prepare students with longterm employment. Students participating for two years live on campus and earn a Career Readiness Certificate.
The program also offers an additional two years, which is invitation only and provides students access to off-campus apartment living. Students can identify a concentration of study in AU courses and earn an Independent Living Certificate.
“Part of college is that time of self-discovery, and what we can do is offer access to Auburn University in a safe environment,” shared Dr. Patten.
The program is intricate with multiple layers of safety and support for EAGLE students, making it costly. The total cost, including program fees, averages out to about $23,000 per semester for families.
“The long term goal is to have a fully endowed program so that no family ever has to pay the full cost,” shared Patten.
Dr. Patten and her team are fundraising and working towards opening financial access to the program.
Meanwhile, EAGLES students continue soaring. Their confidence is inspiring.
“This is the moment, this is the time,” sings Moates.
Fundraising efforts continue next week with a “20K in a Day Challenge.” An Auburn Alum is matching dollar for dollar up to $20,000 to help support the program. The fundraiser lasts until October 16th. Click on the link to discover more about the EAGLES program and make a contribution.