Finding the Support to Succeed
Life certainly can throw some curveballs, but for Sean Needham joy can still be found in each day. Key to enjoying life, he says, is connecting with other people, establishing a mutually supportive network and wanting to succeed.
“I believe in engaging with people, in finding people to support you, who you also can support, and who can be part of your journey. It really enlarges your world and you end up accomplishing more than you can even imagine,” he says. “This college really gets that. People here want you to succeed.”
As someone who has been in a wheelchair since a young age due to cerebral palsy, Needham turned to the Office of Disability Services at County College of Morris (CCM) for the assistance he needed to pursue a college education. His assistance has included notetakers in his classes and extra time to take exams. But it was not just assistance that he found. What he also has learned during his time at CCM, he says, is how to advocate for what he needs and how to function successfully in the world.
“The support and services here are really very good,” says Needham. “I think that’s the hallmark of CCM – a commitment to student success. CCM certainly has been an integral part of my growth.”
Disability Services assists students with documented disabilities including physical, learning and psychological issues. Unlike elementary school and high school, there are no special education classes or resource rooms at the college level and students need to learn to ask for what they need. At CCM, the Disability Services office serves about 1,000 students each year and is well respected for the quality of its facilities, technology and individualized attention.
“We accommodate students based on their individual disability related needs,” says Maria Schiano, director of Disability Services and the Testing Center “We also place a priority on follow through and making sure the students we serve are receiving the assistance they need to succeed.”
Once Needham graduates from CCM with his associate degree, he plans to enroll at Montclair State University and study international justice or pre-law. “I want to be a productive member of society and give back,” he says.
“Life can be pretty fragile but we need to try and make a difference in the world,” he adds. “I try to take life seriously, but not myself too seriously. Sure I’ve gotten banged up a bit by life, but it also has given me a perspective not to squander opportunities.”