Associate Features Editor
Deltilyn Bonal is a second-year Integrated Studies student at Millersville University.
Integrated Studies is a program that allows students with intellectual disabilities to attend college and earn a University certificate. Bonal said the group consists of about fifteen students. “Some I know and some I don’t know,” she said.
The cost of the program is standard tuition plus an additional $5,300 for an Educational Support Fee per semester. Students who enrolled in Integrated Studies have most of the same financial aid options as everyone else; however, they are not eligible for federal loans since they are not degree-seeking students.
Financial options available to Integrated Studies students include private pay,
Office of Vocational Rehabilition, Medicaid Waiver, Pell Grant, Work Study and a Millersville sponsored scholarship.
“We have coaches who help us with homework and go in classes with us,” said Bonal.
The program can be either two or four years. Bonal plans to get her certificate in 2020.
Bonal said she has always wanted to go to college because she enjoys meeting new people. Her favorite classes are photography and graphic design. When Bonal is not on campus taking photos or doing graphic design, she likes to sing, dance, read and hang out with friends.
Bonal said she has made some friends since coming to college, but she has also struggled to fit in.
“People don’t talk to me, don’t include me,” said Bonal.
Students in the Integrated Studies program live in the university’s residence halls. This is the first program in Pennsylvania to provide students with intellectual disabilities with the opportunity to experience residence hall life on campus.
“We don’t live together. We live with the regular people, regular students,” said Bonal.
According to the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities website, an intellectual disability is “a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills.” Usually an IQ test score of 70-75 can diagnose an intellectual disability. Persons with intellectual disabilities struggle with learning, reasoning, problem solving and social skills.
Bonal described an intellectual disability as when “people allow other people to do something because they cannot do it for themselves because of a disability.”
When asked what makes her happy, Bonal said “being engaged with other people, participating in other stuff, people recognizing me for who I am and not my disability.”
Overall, Bonal reports that she is happy at Millersille University. On a scale of 1 to 10 she rated her happiness level as a 10.
Everyone is born uniquely with different challenges they must face. Beneath every label and diagnosis is a human being who experiences both joys and hardships. Having a disability means experiencing life through a different lens. Despite difficulties, people like Bonal still choose to pursue higher education, which is well within their rights.