Student Support Summit Inspires Future Collaboration

When dozens of committed professionals come together to share ideas the results can be amazing. And that's exactly what happened at a recent gathering of colleges and educational groups who focus on providing services to post-secondary students with learning differences and the faculty and staff who support them.

Words like “awesome,” “energizing” and “inspiring” were common themes in the evaluations of the College STAR Student Support Summit recently held in Chapel Hill, NC thanks to the support of the Oak Foundation.

The summit brought together representatives from 14 different colleges as well as organizations such as the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the Center for Creative Leadership, and Eye to Eye. Through structured networking and presentations, the participants learned about each other’s programs and identified issues around which they might collaborate.

The summit was convened by College STAR, a UNC system project supporting students with learning differences. UNC system campuses with active campus programs-- East Carolina University, Appalachian State University and Fayetteville State University--served as hosts and organizers. The group will use participant feedback to plan next steps for continuing the momentum begun at the summit including possible research and policy collaborative activities.

“This has been the most relevant and engaging experience I have ever had,” reported one participant.  “The networking alone was worth the time.   I am so energized by the endless possibilities it made possible to inform each others’ practice and have a true support network.   Thank you so much—I am leaving with a new-found boost of energy for my work.”

Stacy Parker-Fisher, Director of Learning Differences at the Oak Foundation, was an active participant during the summit. The group thanked her for supporting the summit and she, in turn, thanked them for their participation. “Making a difference is all about partners,” Parker-Fisher said.   “It’s the work you do and your energy that makes it all happen.”