Utc student with down syndrome navigating college, taking charge of her future times free press gas finder near me


Standing in the UTC Library’s first-floor theater, Parker deftly runs through slides about "Smoke Signals," a 1998 comedy she’s dissecting for her American Independent Cinema class. The movie has an American Indian writer, director and actors and "explores the nature of Native American stereotypes in popular cinema by both seriously challenging them and humorously poking fun at them," she says, repeating a line that appears in her PowerPoint.

Confidence is not something the 22-year-old Parker lacks. She’s the only student at UTC with Down syndrome, but its limitations are simply things for her to overcome, not to hold her back. Although she usually has someone with her while she’s on campus, she’s unafraid to go it alone. Friends, family and teachers say she loves to learn, studies religiously, turns her assignments in on time and has an active on-campus social life.

"I told my Dad and Mom that, one, I want to go to college, and two, I want to go to college in Chattanooga, downtown in Chattanooga," she explains. "I really wanted to go, but I talked to them first and they agreed with me that I can do it."

"We wanted to make sure this was not about us," he adds. "Parker could take classes and be able to complete them like other students — certainly with modifications because of her ability — but it’s got to be her best work and it’s got to be about her interests.

To start the journey, he headed to UTC with her school records from Signal Mountain plus letters of recommendation from her teachers, making sure she was eligible for enrollment. She was. From there, they worked with school administrators and advisers to get her ready, he says, singing the praises of UTC staff.

As part of the learning process before Parker started school, the Davises took a special-education training program to help them get organized. They also lined up other students to accompany Parker to class and help her acclimate to college.

Still, it’s not like they open the door and let Parker just waltz out, he stresses. She has the Strava app on her smartphone, which allows them to know where she is through satellite GPS. The front entrance of the University Center is always the spot where she waits if anyone is looking for her or is scheduled to pick her up.

So far, that stuff has included credit courses such as Cultural Geography, Spanish, American Cinema, Theatre and Legal Assistant Studies along with noncredit classes, most of which focus on physical activity because low muscle tone is a common ailment for those with Down syndrome.

In the downstairs room where the office’s administrative staff works, she has a blue beanbag chair in a corner where, with notebooks, textbooks and pens on the floor around her, she does her daily studying and coursework. Upstairs on the third floor is Parker’s Perch, a room where she can go for some quiet study or to rest.

"We don’t have a specific goal. I couldn’t tell you whether Parker is capable of eventually earning a degree or not," he says. "She’s done extremely well in those classes, but as far as when they become more complex and difficult, I don’t know if that’s possible.