Gentry Riner has grown and accomplished great progress since first joining us at Challenge Enterprises 5 years ago. When Gentry first joined Challenge Enterprises, she was looking to gain meaningful employment and independence. Over the past 5 years, Gentry has worked in our fulfillment warehouse, sewing and packing inserts for protective bullet proof vests. With increased focus, Gentry’s work production was greatly up-leveled. In the beginning, Gentry was able to produce 150 bullet proof plate covers per day and she is now able to produce 700 plate covers during her shift. With her progress, came the yearning to continue growing in new areas. Gentry expressed her excitement for continued education and new independent living opportunities.
Just days after her 5-year anniversary with Challenge Enterprises, Gentry was notified that she had been accepted into the ARC of Jacksonville’s Academy On Campus transition (OCT) program at the University of North Florida. Gentry is just one of just 25 students inducted into the program each year.
In 2007, The ARC of Jacksonville collaborated with the University of North Florida to create a program that would allow students with intellectual disabilities to have the unique opportunity of gaining an innovative and authentic collegiate experience, while also receiving transitional services that promote independent adult living. The Academy On Campus Transition (OCT) program allows students to take two classes per semester and focuses on facilitating campus activities like; attending spirited sporting events, joining campus organizations, exercising in the new student wellness center and dorm living. The OCT program is supported by student mentors and volunteers who serve as a source of guidance for the program’s attendees. Whether learning to manage money (in the form of a budget) or creating a resume and applying for a new job, the Academy covers it all.
When asked about what she is most excited about with the new transition, Gentry replied that she is nervous, but looking forward to learning the disciplines of managing money in addition to learning to live on her own. Gentry has personally taken a special interest in computer and art classes due to her love for drawing and creativity. Gentry’s short-term goals with the program include furthering her education and learning to be financially responsible for her earnings. In the long term, Gentry would like to gain new career employment opportunities and live independently.
Gentry aspires for many of the accomplishments that we all strive to achieve in life and she truly embodies the American spirit. Everyone at Challenge Enterprises is very proud of Gentry and we wish her well on her new chapter of growth. To follow Gentry’s progress and experience at UNF, visit www.challengeenterprises.org
To learn more about the On-Campus Transition program at UNF and how to support and/or volunteer visit: http://www.unf.edu/oncampustransition/