LIFE, is a two-year program for students with intellectual disabilities. Clemson LIFE’s webpage describes the program as a coordinated course of study that includes career exploration and preparation through a framework of courses, internships, and community participation. Holcombe has Down’s syndrome and the program will help him develop independent living, social, and employment skills. His admittance into the program made headlines after his mother recorded him reading his acceptance letter and uploaded it to her YouTube channel. She later released a statement saying, “I love that kids like Rion get to experience college life and type of independence. Proud of my alma mater!”
There are usually six to eight full-time students accepted into the program each year for the fall semester, and all of them live on campus as preparation for being able to live alone some day. The coursework is taught by staff certified in special education. The program will not result in a college degree, but Rion and his classmates will receive a postsecondary education certificate. They will also have an employment portfolio put together for them during their time in the program.
Rion will be learning different skills while in the LIFE program. He will take classes in nutrition and health food cooking, and budgeting classes. Rion will also have access to job placement programs with on-site supervision, on and off campus.
His mom, Susan, wants Rion’s admission into the program to be a symbol of encouragement for others, “Let’s show all kids the sky is the limit, and that with determination, hard work, and a positive attitude they can overcome obstacles and challenges,” she said. Rion is preparing to start school as a Clemson Tiger next fall.
You can watch the awesome video of Rion receiving his acceptance letter here.