Julian Manning ’20, a sociology major from Hartford, CT, has a clear vision for his future: working with youth in educational settings. He has a strong start on gaining experience in this area, too, since he mentors 4th and 5th grade students at Homework House in Holyoke, MA. 

Life wasn’t always so well-defined for Julian, however. At the end of high school, he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to go to a trade school or a traditional four year college. He came to Elms to play basketball, but didn’t know what to major in. And, while juggling commitments as a student athlete had its challenges, it paled in comparison to what was perhaps his biggest obstacle in higher ed: learning to self-advocate for extra academic support.

Photo of Julian Manning '20, sociology major
Julian majored in sociology because he felt like it prepared him for a wide variety of jobs. “I want to work in the school system and help the youth. To me, that’s what it’s about. If I can at least reach one of them, I’m doing something right,” he said.

Growing up, Julian actively managed his ADHD with the support of his mother. He was familiar with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) throughout school. But, college was a new environment, and adjusting to a new set of expectations required a plan for success.

“When I first got here, I wasn’t really going to class as often as I should have been,” Julian said. “I was really slacking my freshman year.”

Enter Student Accommodations and Support Services (SASS). Led by director Tynisha Henderson, M.A., the SASS office actively seeks to create accessible experiences at Elms for students with disabilities. While academic accommodations are typically the first to come to mind, SASS also supports students requiring accommodations for residence life, medical injuries, and event participation. In Julian’s case, he worked with Tynisha to arrange extra time for tests, inform his professors of his accommodation, and find a single dorm room to help him concentrate.

“There would be times where I would go to her every day of the week. It gave me more confidence, having someone who actually believed in me.”

Julian Manning ’20

Time is of the essence when it comes to student accommodations, according to Julian. His advice to students coming to Elms is to self-advocate from the beginning.

“Communicate as soon as you get here, so things can fall right into place,” he said. “Tynisha has a lot of resources — she can help anybody. You just have to be willing to ask for help.”

The Parent’s Perspective: Having an “Inside Connection”

Beverly Ramsey, Julian’s mother, is well-versed in student support services. Throughout Julian’s primary and secondary schooling, she would “advocate and navigate” through administrative resources, making sure her son had the support he needed to succeed. While the college admission process was no different, it did have one major difference from high school: cost.

Photo of Julian Manning '20 and his mother, Beverly Ramsey
Attending an Open House was invaluable for learning about the resources available at Elms, said Beverly. Speaking with the SASS director in person offered a chance to discuss Julian’s needs and map out a plan for success, she added.

“Tynisha understood that, as a parent, you think of investing in higher education for your child, and you want to make sure you’re not throwing your money out of the door,” Beverly said. “You want to make sure they’re going to get all that they need. Tynisha has provided that support and encouragement.”

For Beverly, SASS acted as a safeguard for her financial investment in her son. 

“Tynisha was my inside connection,” Beverly said. “She was a key resource for me, and helped me keep up with what was happening with him.”

Beverly’s advice to parents of students with disabilities is clear and practical. “Connect with someone,” she advised. “Connect with that key person in the school, and explain what’s happening with your child. Just be honest.”

“Tynisha has been very receptive to my inquiries, and in making sure college would be a successful journey for Julian,” she added.

For more information about student accommodation and support services, visit the SASS web page.