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RiverHawks Scholar Program accepting applications for the 2019-2020 year

Cyanna Holland is one of the five students wrapping up their first year in the RiverHawks Scholar Program at Northeastern State University.

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) - The RiverHawks Scholar Program at Northeastern State University is wrapping up its first year providing an inclusive four-year, post-secondary certificate opportunity for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

The first cohort of five students has had a tremendous first year. Ivy Atkism, RiverHawks Scholar Program coordinator, is hoping to have enough applicants to add six to eight more students in the fall.

A joint effort of Lead Learn Live and NSU, the program is the first of its kind in Oklahoma.

The program is based on four pillars: independent living, social skills, academics and career readiness. The ultimate goal is for scholars to live independently and be gainfully employed in something they enjoy after they complete the program.

Student assistants help the scholars begin their weeks with a financial literacy class and personal health class; they also assist the scholars each morning and evening by helping develop routines with hygiene and time management. Scholars have a peer and fitness mentor they meet with during the week multiple times.

Each semester, scholars take two traditional college classes and a program class, and they spend six hours with tutors throughout their week. Though scholars are attending traditional classes, they have a modified curriculum based on their individual academic abilities.

During the second semester of freshman year, the scholars begin an internship or job placement on campus, which most attend every day. 

Once the scholars complete their four years at Northeastern, they are given a certificate of completion from the RiverHawks Scholars Program.

“I think that our current students will be really good unofficial mentors to the new students coming in,” Atkism said. “For example, we always tell them, ‘don’t leave your roommate behind,’ and our students check on each other and make sure everyone is getting up for class each morning. They are very personable and very caring, and I think that’ll be very good.”

The ultimate goal is to have 40 students enrolled in the program each year.

For more information and an application for the scholar program, visit

Published: 5/14/2019 4:16:57 PM

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