Originally published in the Orange County Register
December 16, 2013
By Lauren Williams
When Mary Brown-Vennard goes home for the holidays, she will leave Long Beach a new woman. The 24-year-old has spent the last six months taking classes at Long Beach City College and living in a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate near the Traffic Circle. Brown-Vennard has a best friend, an internship at a preschool, goes grocery shopping and cooks for herself.
These are all new experience for Brown-Vennard, who is one of 26 students who are part of the College Internship Program, which customizes its year-round classes to adults with learning disabilities. Students learn how to live independently through a variety of classes that teach them how to budget money and keep a schedule, while providing therapy, roommate meetings and career counseling, among other services. A staffer is on site 24/7 in case of emergency.
CIP was founded in the 1980s as an alternative to institutions for those with learning disabilities. The Long Beach office is the second on the West Coast to open, and the expansion was a response from interest from California, which generated about half of the web hits to the CIP website, said founder Michael McManmon. Long Beach was selected because its community college and university were nearby.