Program helps students with disabilities to complete school

Published: Sep. 1, 2011 at 9:36 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - College of Charleston Sophomore Brian Porterfield sees a big future ahead of him.

"I want to run everything, taste everything and be inspired by the walks of life,"Porterfield said.

Brian was born premature weighing only 1 pound 7 ounces. Brian's mother, Rosalyn, says her son has faced health challenges all of his life. Porterfield says in grade school her son was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities.

"He does very well with what obstacles he has to face and he overcomes them just like a champion,"Porterfield said.

Rosalyn says she was delighted when Brian graduated from high school and never thought he would be able to go to college.

"He kept asking me,'Mom, I want to go to college' and it was so hard to say no you can't," she says.

Everything changed when the Porterfields heard about a new program called REACH which stands for Realizing Educational and Career Hopes at the College of Charleston.

"It is a four year post secondary program for students with intellectual disabilities so they can have a four year experience, "said Program Director Edie Cusack.

REACH also offers students the chance to do internships during their junior and senior years. Cusack says one of the great things about the program is that it offers extra support to the students.

REACH offers mentors as well as tutors that meet with students before and after every class.

"I am very blessed to have this opportunity and I feel like I am a traditional student flaws and all, "Porterfield said.

"I just see him and his big smile walking across the cistern getting his diploma its an unimaginable feeling for me," Rosalyn Porterfield said.

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