Ohio’s Historically Black Colleges/Universities Partner for Students with Disabilities

Jack Thomas, PhD

Special to The Truth

Wilberforce and Central State Universities and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities are working together to ensure support for a niche student population.

On Tuesday, September 28, the presidents of both universities formally announced the expansion of opportunities for students at both colleges who have disabilities. As part of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s executive budget for fiscal years 2022-2023, Ohio College2Careers immerses a full-time, dedicated vocational rehabilitation counselor in the disability services offices at Wilberforce and Central State Universities.

The counselor will connect the students to career exploration and counseling, assistive technology, resume and interview preparation, and job placement. These resources will help students complete their degrees or credentials, earn higher wages and meet the demands of tomorrow’s labor market.

One of those counselors has already established working relationships with students who have specialized academic needs at Central State and Wilberforce Universities.

“I will meet with students to assess their abilities,” said Taleisa Jones. “I want to see their strengths – to see what they can do. My goal is for them to succeed.”

The presidents of both universities envision the enriched services of the Ohio College2Careers program as a gateway to greater independence for their students.

Elfred A. Pinkard, PhD

Elfred Anthony Pinkard, PhD, president of Wilberforce University, said, “We are excited about this opportunity to partner with our sister institution, Central State University and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, to develop comprehensive academic and vocational programming for students who are differently-abled, thus giving them the skills, confidence, and ability to craft productive futures for themselves.”

“This innovative partnership with Wilberforce University and Opportunities for Ohioans for Disabilities, provides Central State University the resources to expand the delivery of services to students with disabilities and help them gain the confidence and skills needed in their academic and professional careers,” said Central State University President, Jack Thomas, PhD. “We are excited to usher in this next-level era of access, independence, and pathways to success.”

The Ohio College2Careers program is available at 17 Ohio colleges and universities, but OOD liaison counselors also work with students with disabilities at any college and university in Ohio. To get started, students can visit OODWorks.com to explore vocational rehabilitation, take a self-assessment, and apply for services.

“Ohio College2Careers at Wilberforce and Central State Universities offers accessible and inclusive career development opportunities for students with disabilities,” said Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “The program supports students in career decisions, professional preparation, and skills for in-demand jobs.”

“This initiative not only allows us to offer additional supports to students with disabilities but also connects student participants to our expansive network of employer partners,” said Kevin Miller, director of OOD.

*For Wilberforce University interviews, contact Marsha Bonhart, 937-286-0023, or at Central State University, Sabrina Pritchett, 937-694-2634.*

For more information about *Ohio College2Careers, visit the webpage, or contact Kristin Garrett at (614) 438-1895 or Kristin.Garrett@OOD.Ohio.Gov. OOD is the state agency responsible for empowering Ohioans with disabilities through employment, disability determinations, and independence. OOD.Ohio.Gov