Step Forward Program Celebrates Successful Year with 11 Graduates

Friday, July 15, 2016


Eleven very happy students had their very own Graduation Ceremony, June 15, to celebrate the completion of a productive 10 month, Step Forward Program. "We've had a busy year," said Jaime French, the program's director. "I am so proud of our students and all they've accomplished." Step Forward (SF) is a transition program for young adults (18-21) with mild cognitive disabilities broken up into two 10-month intervals. 

Along with instruction and many activities, Step Forward formed a winning, on-going partnership with GCC's Nutrition and Dietetics Program, and students participated in a variety of internships and community programs, including the CT Rides Commuter Challenge competition, which the group won.

“It so important to get the students to initiate the lesson and really engage the students because if you can engage them from the beginning you’re golden” says instructor, Nancy Tingley.

Step Forward Program participants engage in a host of activities including vocational exploration and career planning, personal finance and interpersonal and workplace communications. The curriculum also covers nutrition and fitness thanks to a wonderful collaboration between Professor Pam Galasso’s community internship students (pursuing their associates degree in the Nutrition and Dietetics Program) and Nancy Tingley’s Step Forward class. In order to complete the NDTR Certificate Program, Professor Galasso’s students must present two one-hour presentations throughout the semester. The collaboration allows the NDTR students to gain valuable experience presenting in front of a captive audience and the SF students are exposed to numerous topics relating to nutrition and health. Some of the presentations topics have included Calcium and Vitamin D, macro-nutrients, fiber, fad diets, healthy snacking, how to order healthy form the college cafeteria and holiday eating. The presentations generally consist of an overview via PowerPoint in addition to supplemental materials for the students in Nancy Tingley’s class. 

"This is another excellent example of Gateway's diversity and how it benefits the entire student body," explains Evelyn Gard, GCC's director of public affairs. "We are truly a microcosm of the community, and the exchange across differences is a real model of what's possible when people get to know each other."

Several students in the Step Forward program participated in internships at the Beardsley Zoo, Stop and Shop and at the college - in some cases the internships have lead to employment. 

The Step Forward Program at Gateway Community College (GCC) celebrated the graduation of 11 of students on June 15, with a moving and inspirational ceremony that celebrated the students' accomplishments and milestones.

For additional information about the Step Forward Program contact Jaime French at (203) 285-2505 or