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RiverHawks Scholar Program’s first graduates celebrate success

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The RiverHawks Scholar Program’s first class graduated Saturday, May 7, from Oklahoma’s first inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) college program for students with mild to moderate intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Sarah Parrack and Charles Michael Copeland, both from Tulsa, and Alaine Lambert, from Muskogee earned certificates of integrated community studies.

The RiverHawks program is an innovative, four-year certificate program operating through a unique partnership at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.

“The first IPSE graduation is a dream realized due to so much work, generosity and prayer from donors, incredible leadership at NSU, and an excellent board of directors for LeadLearnLive,” Julie Lackey, director of Oklahoma IPSE Alliance, said.

“However, that dream would not have happened if not for amazing families that supported their students and most of all to Lainey, Michael and Sarah for all their hard work and desire for their best lives,” Lackey added.

In May 2018, NSU joined LeadLearnLive to create the RiverHawks Scholar Program, which focuses on academics, independent living, social skills and career development.

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Transition program funds up to $3,000 per student each semester for tuition, room and board and paid internships. DRS’ Vocational Rehabilitation division may also provide career counseling, vocational evaluation, work adjustment training, on-the-job training, work-study, job development and placement, depending on students’ needs.

Riverhawk students must be Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Transition Program clients, ages 18 through 26 years.

“Together, the program partners are empowering RiverHawks scholars to live independently and become gainfully employed after they complete the program,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt said.

"Alaine Lambert, Sarah Parrack and Michael Copeland have blazed a trail for our current underclassman and all future RiverHawks Scholar students,” Justin Chase, RiverHawks Scholar Program director, said. “They are proving that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to working hard and overcoming challenges. I will certainly miss them, but I am also excited to see what their future holds."  

For more information about the Riverhawks Scholar Program, contact Chase at chase04@nsuok.edu or 918-444-3711.

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RiverHawks Scholar Program students Sarah Parrack and Charles Michael Copeland, both from Tulsa, and Alaine Lambert, from Muskogee, are the first graduating class in the first inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) college program in Oklahoma.

For more information

Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director

Cell: 405-203-1318 

Last Modified on May 11, 2022