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Day in the Life: Being on KU’s campus is a dream for Sarah Schaffer — and she shows it
Sarah Schaffer, a student from Lawrence, loves her life here at the University, and you can see it on her face when you speak with her. Schaffer, who has Down syndrome, is a typical 23-year-old who enjoys being around as many people as she can.
Schaffer originally took classes at Washburn University for a few years, but given that her parents and older sister both attended KU, she decided to make the switch to Lawrence where she can take classes and participate in the Transition to Postsecondary Education program that gives students with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to experience an inclusive environment.
School days vary
Like most students, Schaffer’s days are never consistent. There are a few things that stay the same, though. She wakes up and eats breakfast in her residence hall, GSP Hall, then heads off for one of her three classes each day — either a health or education course, or University Band, where she plays percussion.
Schaffer does more than just go to class; she has a communication coach to work on speech three times a week and attends a music therapy session once a week to work on other specific goals. Despite joking that she goes to the gym to workout 10 times a week, she admitted she still goes an impressive once a day.
Stephanie Meehan is an assistant clinical professor of speech, language and hearing at the University, and one of Schaffer’s good friends.
“Sarah has really high positive energy,” Meehan said. “She is friendly and outgoing. I have never known Sarah not to be in a good mood. She’s happy to be here. I think college life suits her because she’s so social and likes to meet new people.”
Working with kids
When classes are done, Schaffer heads over to the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence to volunteer with kindergarten and first grade students twice a week.
“They’re so tiny,” Schaffer said. “They don’t really pay attention … kids are like that. »
While Schaffer loves living in the dorms – she came to the University for the opportunity to live in one – she said she hopes to move into an apartment and get a job at the University.
“My dream is to drive a car,” Schaffer said. “But I’d also like to work with other kids.”
Schaffer loves education. She used to volunteer in the Language Acquisition Preschool and proved that she is “very good with little kids,” according to Meehan. She can remember everyone’s names after just one meeting.