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The University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies (SPCS) and the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired (VRCBVI) have partnered to launch a two-week online STEPS to Success college preparation program for blind and vision impaired students. 

The program runs for two weeks, starting July 6 and ending July 17. The six students chosen to participate are attending classes taught by Sam Bruce, a professional career advisor, and Barbara Paterson, the School’s lead SAT Preparation instructor. Classes are held online Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The program offers participants an abbreviated online college experience where students are assigned readings, presentations and homework. Like college students, participants are able to schedule online office hours with professors. 

The two courses taught, English 101 and Leadership 101, include lessons on writing and analytical skills, creative thinking, problem-solving and characteristics of leadership. Additional lessons include résumé preparation, interviewing techniques, standardized test preparation and the college application process.

This partnership is the first of its kind. Last December, VRCBVI staff approached the School about creating this program. Mary Catherine Raymond, senior program manager at SPCS, has been working with staff at VRCBVI since. The original plan was to host the program on campus so students would get the residential college setting, but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the shift to online learning, according to Raymond. 

“I think that there’s a lot of potential to provide a service that can be life-changing for the community,” Raymond said. “No matter what pathway they take after they finish our course, they’ll have skills that they can use right away.”

SPCS seeks to meet the learning needs of Richmond-area working professionals while preparing students for their future careers. This new partnership reflects the School’s mission to enrich lives and careers for the 21st century.

Senior Program Manager, Professional Education & Youth
Course Leader, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute