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RISE To The Top! USM Program Earns Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) Status

Thu, 01/04/2024 - 09:02am | By: Jerry Alliston


The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) RISE To The Top! inclusive postsecondary education program for students with intellectual disabilities has reached a momentous milestone by receiving status as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP).

RISE, which stands for Reaching, Including, Supporting, and Educating, is a four-year (eight-semester), inclusive non-degree certificate program that incorporates academics and employment preparation. This program is a partnership between the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development. 

Noteworthy highlights from the USM program include, but are not limited to:

  • One of only two CTP programs in the State of Mississippi
  • Applications open for the first full cohort in fall 2024
  • Enrollment in a class or classes each semester with peer students without disabilities
  • Participants receive peer mentorship from USM Honor’s College and Luckyday Program
  • Employment-focused internships on campus and in the greater community
  • Participation in campus life activities, including monthly events hosted by USM student organization Aspiring Special Educators Network (ASPEN)
  • Community engagement through service opportunity involvement each semester

Dr. Rebekah Young, IDS Executive Director, is excited to see this much-needed program grow.

“The approval of the RISE program and its designation as a CTP is a dream realized after many years of planning and piloting,” said Young. “We are grateful for the partnership with the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development that made this possible. I am confident that obtaining this designation will not only demonstrate the growing need for programs such as this but will also show the program’s previous achievements from the piloting phase, as we plan for its continued success and expansion through the recruitment of our first full cohort of new students in fall 2024.”

CTP status allows students applying for this program potential eligibility for federal student aid.  The CTP application, as well as the entire program, is a joint effort between the Institute for Disability Studies and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development. 

To learn more about RISE To The Top! at USM, call 601.266.5979. Support RISE To The Top!, by visiting The USM Foundation, clicking on Designations and Give to the Area(s) of Your Choice. Type in 1694 and select Institute for Disability Studies Development Fund. Learn more about the Institute for Disability Studies and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development.