by Dylan Gerard
Climbing over snowbanks while leading two dogs full of energy out to the play yard may seem like a challenging task for some. For CCAP Student Lizzy Leverone however, it is just another joyful day at work. Since last August, Leverone has been a student in the College and Career Access Project (CCAP), a one-year vocationally focused noncredit program for students with intellectual, developmental and learning disabilities. The program was launched with support from The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation and is jointly administered by the partnership between the Northeast Arc and North Shore Community College. As part of CCAP, students have the option of choosing from two fields of study, Basic Canine and Feline Care or Horticulture.
For Leverone, the choice was easy. “I love animals and getting to learn about them and working with them has been so great,” she said. CCAP students take three noncredit college classes specific to their chosen field of study each semester. The classes are taught by NSCC faculty and other field professionals. CCAP also connects students to the workplace through eight hours a week of structured internships which include on-site support for the student.
Nancy DeFazio, owner of Dingo’s Dogsitting in Beverly, has hosted Leverone as an intern since the program began. “Lizzy has been an absolute pleasure to have as an intern,” said DeFazio. “She is conscientious, upbeat, punctual, and also a very hard worker that takes initiative, which is key for me.” Day-to-day job responsibilities for Leverone range from walking, brushing, feeding, and playing with dogs to cleaning up after them and being conscious of their behavior to avoid incidents.
Leverone’s classroom learning has been an essential part of teaching her the skills to put into practice at her internship. Classes CCAP students have taken include: Canine Breeds and Behavior, Intro to Grooming, Canine Training, and Ethical Issues in Animal Care. “Lizzy has been such a pleasure to have in class,” said instructor Lisa Kane, who is the owner of Wags Doggie Daycare in Wenham, MA. “She is a very passionate student who is always asking great questions and eager to learn as much as she can.”
Although CCAP will conclude this May, Leverone will be staying busy. Her passion for animals and the hard work she has put in at her internship led to an easy decision for Dingo’s Dogsitting owner Nancy DeFazio to hire Leverone upon completion of CCAP. “Lizzy takes the job seriously and seems to implicitly realize the importance of caring for the animals in a way that keeps them safe and healthy,” said DeFazio. “I’m excited to be able to offer her a paid position when the internship is over. “
CCAP admits 8-12 students per vocational pathway each year and is currently accepting applicants for fall 2015. Students must be 18-26 years old with a documented intellectual, developmental, or learning disability. Admissions criteria and applications are located on the NSCC website at: www.northshore.edu/CCAP. Employers interested in providing internships for CCAP participants can contact Dylan Girard at the Northeast Arc at 978.624.3062.