Thanks to a special program offered through Duquesne University, student with disabilities receive an education through college.

Students With Disabilities Receive an Education Through CollegeFor two young women born with Down syndrome, inclusion has meant the world.  Mary Jane Conroy and Maria Rajakovich recently graduated from the special college program at Duquesne.

“To us, it was a blessing,” said Ms. Rajakovich’s mom, Lisa Rajakovich.  She was speaking of the St. Anthony School Programs, a faith-based initiative offering young people with intellectual disabilities a chance to receive a full inclusive education from kindergarten through college.

“I don’t think she would be where she is if she hadn’t gone through the program,” said Mrs. Rajakovich.  Her daughter is 22 and has been participating in the St. Anthony program since she was 5.  “She’s confident, well-adjusted and she has so much self-esteem because of it.’’

Mary Jane Conroy began her education at St. Thomas More School in kindergarten with the St. Anthony program before she attended Bishop Canevin High School and Duquesne University. She attended many general education classes with her non-disabled peers.

“We always wanted a Catholic education for our kids,” Mrs. Dressman-Conroy said. “We found out about the program when she was 4. It was wonderful. She played basketball, she was a cheerleader. She was included. She went to birthday parties.”

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