Abigail Censabella, 20, is like most college students, just starting to get the hang of shopping and making food for herself.
“I never really went to the store, but I did before I came here. I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be so fun going grocery shopping,’ but now I’m at the phase where I’m like, very procrastinating,” said Censabella.
It’s a relatable feeling.
But at the College of St. Rose, Censabella takes courses specifically focused on everyday essentials, such as grocery shopping and meal prepping.
She's part of the College Experience Program (CEP), a program operated by Living Resources. It gives those with learning differences and disabilities the chance to go to college.
Censabella takes classes like executive functioning and budgeting for independence. It's given her an opportunity she never thought was possible.
“No, I did not see myself going to college or any program remotely like this,” Censabella said.
About 50 people are enrolled in the program, which has continued throughout all but three months of the pandemic.
Students live and take classes on campus, because just like everyone else, they’re viewed and treated as St. Rose students.
The program encourages students to join extracurricular activities.
For Censabella, that’s meant joining the dance company. She auditioned and made the team, and in the process, gained an experience and friendships she didn’t expect.
“They didn’t just see me as someone from CEP. They saw me as someone from St. Rose, so I’m glad they actually gave me the chance to dance here,” said Censabella.
When she’s not dancing, she’s attending an internship.
Censabella works at Capital Milestones Child Care, helping preschool teachers set up meals and activities for students. If she’s not there, she’s in the classroom.
While she admits she was hesitant at first, Censabella believes the program has helped her set herself up for success.
“It prepares you for the real world,” said Censabella. “I mean, I don’t think I would be here and successfully have a career and have good support without this program.”