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Academic Support Center a "Refuge"
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Academic Support Center a "Refuge"

“For me, the Academic Support Center is more than a learning center. It is a place of peace and quiet, a refuge away from the bustling campus.” These words spoken by senior Chariya-Marie summarize what Notre Dame College’s Academic Support Center (ASC) means to its students with learning differences.

Char, as her friends call her, is one of 85 students enrolled in the center, which opened its doors in 2006. Over the past four years, the ASC has helped students overcome their learning disabilities through comprehensive support services that range from individual tutoring to action support groups and career advice.

Chariya-Marie is a student in Notre Dame's Academic Support Center.With adaptive equipment and personal attention far exceeding those services required by law, the ASC unlocks the potential of its highly gifted students. Char, who has Asperger’s, is just one example.     

A graduate of Beaumont High School, Char lives by one of the school’s guidelines – unity through individuality. At Notre Dame College, she brought that maxim to life when she co-founded the Neurodiversity Club, which aims to educate the public to respect those with brain differences.

A strong advocate for diversity and human rights, Char wants to build “neurodiversity pride.” Majoring in communication, she plans to go to law school and hopes to one day work for the American Civil Liberties Union. One of her goals is to protect the rights of students who have been bullied and have not received protection from school authorities.

Having experienced bullying herself, Char wants “to fight for laws and programs that would require school administrators to take proactive measures to prevent bullying and to enforce existent anti-bullying state laws to provide a safe learning environment for students.”Char is convinced Notre Dame College and the ASC have prepared her for this ambitious career.

"Unlike other colleges, NDC has a support program that is tailored to my needs,” Char says. “The staff took into account that my learning style was that of a visual learner and tutored accordingly.”

“I also learned note-taking skills and strategies for organizing my schedule; and the social skills workshop improved my ability to communicate, to resolve conflict, and to be more reflective in my choice of language.”

Char is very active in the college community. For the last three years she has sung alto in the NDC Choral Club, has served on the Student Government’s Food Committee, and, as a member of Campus Ministry, has helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

But when it is time to focus on her studies, Char knows she needs to step away from the hustle and bustle on campus. There is only one refuge she visits then – the ASC.

ASC Director Gretchen Walsh and student Chariya-Marie Curd will talk about their experiences at Notre Dame College at the Independence Civic Center on April 5 at 6:30 p.m.