In-Focus features a staff member each month as a way to learn more about our amazing staff. This month, we highlight CIP Brevard's Assistant Program Director Jessica Stacey. We asked Jess a few questions about her role, her CIP experience, and what she does when she’s not at the Center.
What’s your most memorable CIP experience?
I could easily write a book on all the impactful moments I’ve experienced during my almost 8-year journey here at CIP. It feels pretty hard to choose just one moment, but to spare you the dissertation, the moment I will never forget, is somewhat heartbreaking.
I worked as an advisor at one point with one of our GLC students, we built a strong relationship, and she made tremendous strides in becoming an independent adult. She left GLC with exciting plans to live alone in a 2-bedroom apartment and pursue a career in the culinary field. Over the course of 2 years, we would stay in touch from time to time, but one day I received a phone call from her mother and the student. Her mother delivered life-changing news. Her mother shared that she had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis and that before she left, she wanted to express the unending gratitude she had for the CIP program and staff. She said she could pass peacefully, knowing that her daughter would be ok and capable of facing all that life offered and that she would feel valued, confident, and successful. We spent time sharing memories from CIP and then said our goodbyes.
I left that phone call with an indescribable feeling, both despair for the family but also an overwhelming sense of purpose and significance to what we do here at CIP. We don’t always notice our influence in the day-to-day motions of appointments, conversations, and activities, but we are truly changing lives for the better, and there is no greater pursuit in life than that.
What have you most learned in your time at CIP?
To embrace change and flexibility! We work with so many unique personalities, and being able to understand and adapt to their needs is paramount in promoting healthy rapport and, consequently, driving that positive progress. In addition, I have learned how important it is to slow down and take time to investigate and dive deeper into work challenges, not giving into snap judgments or emotional responses but attending to all perspectives and leaning into your colleagues to develop best practices/solutions.
How has CIP helped you grow in your career?
Oh, exponentially! I started CIP in August 2015 as a mental health intern working towards my Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and fell in love with CIP. I first worked as the Admissions Coordinator and quickly started honing the ability to know everything there is to know about CIP and how to ensure we have the right students for our program. From there, I had the unique opportunity to work in almost every department at CIP. During this timeframe, I honed my leadership skills, aided in the development and success of several initiatives, and never stopped learning how best to support our young adults. In a nutshell, I‘ve had my career launched all the way from entry-level to administration! That is pretty much the definition of growth.
What's your favorite part about working at CIP?
Well, first and foremost, I would have to say our Team. I undoubtedly know that I can rely on my colleagues to jump in to support students and each other, to provide insightful feedback, or just bring some laughter to the table, making each day easier, happier, and more connecting. Another favorite to highlight is Orientation and our Convocation & Awards Ceremony! The excitement and buzz of a new year and all the potential for what will come is invigorating and when you pair it with our end-of-year Convocation, when we come back together to celebrate our student’s growth, progress, and achievements- talk about a powerful feeling. Those two events perfectly sum up why I love working at CIP - OUR STUDENTS. It is truly a special thing to be allowed to support them on their journeys and to bear witness to all they overcome to become independent young adults.
CIP’s focus for the program year is ASPIRE. What do you aspire to do or be in the
When it comes to CIP, I aspire for our Center to continue to grow our trust in one another and to ensure our community feels respected and committed to the excellence we promise. On a more personal level, I have aimed to become more involved with the rock-climbing community again and grow our local youth team.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
Following my aspirations, you may have gathered that I am an avid rock climber and have been climbing since I was just seven years old. I have traveled the world, climbed various crags and mountains, and competed during my younger years (12-20.) I eventually became a coach for youth climbers and am now getting the opportunity to introduce my sons to the sport!
The College Internship Program is a comprehensive transition program for young adults on the Autism Spectrum and with Learning Differences. Our Mission is to inspire independence and expand the foundation on which young adults with Autism, ADHD, and other Learning Differences can build happy and productive lives.