Excitement and emotions were high in the Opalka Gallery at Russell Sage College’s Albany campus as students in The College Experience Program prepare to embark on the next chapter in their academic journey.
The announcement is official! Living Resources is partnering with Russell Sage to preserve, strengthen, and grow our College Experience Program long into the future.
After the College of Saint Rose suddenly announced it would be closing at the end of the Spring 2024 semester, efforts immediately began to find the best possible new home for all of the learning, achievements, and lifelong connections that The College Experience Program is known for. All of those involved agree that Russell Sage is a perfect fit and melding of our philosophies, mission, and values,
“It was heartbreaking when we found out that the College of Saint Rose was closing,” shared CEO Elizabeth Martin at the podium during the official press conference, “The feeling of loss for our graduates and for our students was unimaginable. However, that closure opened the door to a fabulous new partnership with Russell Sage, as our host college for this program. I’m looking forward to many, many years of us working together.”
“The College Experience aligns perfectly with the Russell Sage mission of ‘Be. Know. Do.’ Together, we provide opportunities for individuals to reach their goals in a supportive environment, while enjoying a range of experiences,” said Russell Sage Provost Theresa Hand, “We are excited to have the students, their families, and the greater Living Resources family join us this summer and add their energy, experiences, and perspectives to our college community.”
A signing ceremony followed remarks, with current College Experience students welcomed to the podium. Each was wearing a new T-shirt emblazoned with the Russell Sage mascot or logo, signaling the start of a new era in their learning process towards independence and personal accomplishment. The students were then ushered over to the many members of the media, to do interviews for television broadcasts and newspaper articles. They represented their program well, giving knowledgeable and personal responses to questions about their experiences in the program and the upcoming changes they are facing.
When asked by a reporter how he felt, Rohan shared that he was very excited, although it all made him a little nervous. He said, “I’m very excited to have this new opportunity.” Douglas Morrissey, father of College Experience senior Samantha shared that he was impressed with how hard the staff worked to make this happen in such a brief period of time.
After all of the questions were answered, the students zipped up their coats and joined a Russell Sage tour guide to get the lay of the land at one of their two new learning grounds. Russell Sage has campuses in both Albany and Troy, which will afford our College Experience students with a wonderful opportunity to immerse themselves in two very different Capital Region cities, which College Experience Senior Admissions Coordinator, Kristin McInerney sees as a bonus. She added, “I can see them fitting right in. I’m very excited.” Living Resources’ Director of College Programs, Colleen Dergosits, agreed, adding “Not only will our students will be welcome here, but our programs will bring a great opportunity to the Russell Sage community.” Living Resources Associate Executive Director for Programs, Jennifer Richard said, “The mission of the college aligns so well with our mission here at Living Resources. We know our students will only add to the wonderful college experience for all.”
The tour took students down hallways, into libraries, past fitness centers, into a gym and through a dining hall. Grace, a College Experience senior turned to one of her instructors and remarked that offerings at the dining hall looked even better than what The College of Saint Rose had to offer! The mood of students was largely bittersweet. They shared their excitement at starting a new chapter, but also their sadness at having no choice but to leave The College of Saint Rose behind.
This transition is a major milestone for The College Experience Program, which has been operating since 2005, when it began with an initial class of four students with intellectual or developmental disabilities who wanted to pursue higher education, just like their peers and siblings. Fast forward to today, the Program has graduated 200 students and will continue to grow with this new partnership. 97 percent of College Experience graduates are living independently and 87 percent are employed. The Program currently supports 55 students, who live in our 10 Albany-based dorm houses. The students will take most of their classes on the Albany campus while using the college shuttles for additional experiences on the Troy campus. To learn more about The College Experience Program, click here.