Photograph of John Moylan by Heather Bish
By Taylor Baker
It’s common for college students to have a tough time figuring out the right career path for them but for a student who’s differently abled, this transition can be even more difficult without the proper resources or guidance. At Cape Cod Community College (4Cs), these students can enroll in the Project Forward program to assist them with the transition from high school to college, and college into the community.
Project Forward is a vocational training program at 4Cs that provides students with learning differences the ability to gain skills for future careers and independent living. The program provides a curriculum for students to explore six different career fields, introducing them to animal care, food preparation, health care, maintenance/landscaping, mass communications, and an exploratory seminar their first year. Once they declare a concentration, students are presented with opportunities for internships and jobs in their desired field.
The Project Forward program has been in existence for around 30 years and in that time 87% of its students have graduated 4Cs employed.
The Seashore Cafe located in the MM Wilkens Hall is operated by Project Forward students who are mainly interested in food preparation. Working at the café allows these students the chance to interact with fellow classmates and faculty as well as practice important life skills that will carry them on and off campus.
“This program has taught me that you’re an adult now and you have to start making your own choices, whether you fail or not,” said John Moylan, a four-year Project Forward student studying food preparation and mass communications.
Moylan attributes this program’s curriculum and guidance to his ability to broadcast his own radio show on the campus radio station- WKKL and maintain a position at the Seashore Café, as well as a job at Market Basket in Bourne.
Heather Bish was made the new director of Project Forward as of August 2018. The former special education teacher specializes in helping differently abled students transition from one part of their life to the next. The new director wants to give students with special needs the same opportunities as others.
Bish stated that to include more students she is trying to get a certain FASFA designation for those who might not be able to pay the full yearly tuition.
“For me, it’s a civil rights issue,” Bish said.
Not only is Bish interested in helping her students succeed academically and transition into society, but she also promotes to business’s that they better and more frequently include differently abled workers on their staff.
“My particular interest is teaching employers and businesses that having people with disabilities is beneficial to [them],” Bish stated. “They’re always showing up at work, they’re happy and know what they’re doing. It’s really beneficial all around.”