By Linda and Bob

The PACE Program is a two-year postsecondary educational program affiliated with National-Louis University in Skokie, Illinois. The goal of the school is to provide students with the skills necessary to allow them to become productive and independent adults. In other words, to create an environment in which “work is accomplished, play is learned, love is felt, and life is enjoyed.” A class of 25 new students is admitted each fall.

Our daughter, Alexandra, is in her second year of the PACE Program. During the application process, we had to provide school records and recommendation letters. Also, Alex had to interview with the administrative staff.

Alex has a full life at school. She lives in a dorm with a roommate from Washington D.C. She spends three days a week at an internship site. This year she is working in the laundry at a local hotel. She attends classes the other two days. During the evening and weekend hours, she has many social and fun activities.

As parents, of course, our dream for Alex is for her to have a life of her own that is productive and as independent as possible.

On a work day, she takes public transportation to her job site and works a full day. Her on-campus days include three or four classes, such as assertiveness training, computer technology, life skills (such as money management, time management, organization and personal care), social skills, art or music, and consumer math. In the evening, she has free time, dinner with friends and a number of evening options that might include a meeting, doing homework, working out at the fitness center, hanging out with friends and doing chores like laundry and cleaning. Every weekend a different group activity is planned, such as a trip to a Northwestern football game, dinner and a movie, bowling, or even a dinner dance.

Alex is enjoying her time at PACE. She loves the independence, her job and the new friends she has made. She does her own laundry, cleans her room, does her homework, is involved in several clubs, goes to the fitness center, takes the bus, writes checks for spending money and budgets her money. When she graduates from PACE in June 2009, we’re hoping that she’ll have the opportunity to participate in the PACE Transition Program, which focuses on apartment living, getting a job and participating in the community.

As parents, of course, our dream for Alex is for her to have a life of her own that is productive and as independent as possible. We’re glad we found the PACE Program for her, to give her the chance to experience a college atmosphere and begin a transition that helps her become an independent, vital and happy young woman with a full and complete work and social life.

Ann Garcia

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