June 2, 2021

Class of 2021: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education grads get set for life after university

Darius Leung, Siobhan Zobatar to attend virtual convocation June 10
Darius Leung (left) and Siobhan Zobatar
Darius Leung, left, and Siobhan Zobatar.

The Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) program at the University of Calgary will see two of its students graduate this year. After five years of study, Darius Leung and Siobhan Zobatar will each receive their Certificate of Completion during the university’s virtual convocation ceremony on June 10.

The IPSE program provides individuals with developmental disabilities a university experience and support as they transition to employment. Students take two university courses each fall and winter semester for five years. An IPSE facilitator supports each student through their studies, but the students are empowered to work as much as they can on their own. The program is administered by the IPSE Society of Alberta who are housed in the Education Tower (rooms 051-054) and have been working with the University of Calgary since 1992 creating positive inclusive spaces in the community.

Darius Leung

Darius Leung

Darius Leung.

By his own account, Leung really came into his own in the last two years of study. He said the more comfortable he became at the university, the more he learned.

“Sometimes for me, change isn’t something I can deal with easily, but I’m willing to go for it,” Leung says.

He found many challenges at university. He jokingly says that getting up early was a real challenge, but on a serious note, he found tests, essays, and assignments difficult, especially when he was not working one-on-one with his facilitator. However, sometimes he surprised himself.

“I had to write a 12-page essay in Latin American Studies,” he says. “It was difficult, but I managed to get a B+ without facilitator help.”

He says he enjoyed his university experience a lot and it was a far cry from the drama found in high school. He says he was able to make new friends at university, and people were more mature. He plans to start looking for work right away and says he would like to find something in customer service.

Favourite class: History 301
Typical university schedule: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday to Friday
Favourite student club: Pokémon Club
Commute: Bus
Advice for new students: University might be a bit big and you might get a bit lost, but you’ll find your way eventually.

Siobhan Zobatar

Siobhan Zobatar

Siobhan Zobatar.

University study helped Zobatar grow into a much more confident and independent woman. She illustrates just how much she has grown by pointing out that she learned to take transit on her own to university.

“Being a student, getting educated and learning made me feel excited and happy,” says Zobatar. “My parents got to see me grow.”

Zobatar says she put in a lot of hard work. She would go to class, then her facilitator would help her for an hour, and then she would work another hour or so on her own. She says her facilitator helped her with her speech, typing lessons and worksheets, in addition to course work.

It was not all hard work. While at university, she says she enjoyed participating in many activities offered through clubs like Zumba, and especially improv.

The pandemic was a huge challenge for her. She says she missed going to in-person classes and was especially tired of Zoom by the end of her studies.

“It’s been so long and I missed my friends,” Zobatar says.

Zobatar says she plans to continue her learning and development in the Graduate Support Services program run by the IPSE Society of Alberta. Through this program, she will undergo employment preparation, development of soft skills and have direct on-site support from a facilitator. 

“Hopefully I get a job soon,” says Zobatar. “I’d like to work in a bakery.”

Favourite class: Geology 307
Typical university schedule: 4 – 5 hours per day, Monday to Thursday
Favourite student club: Improv Club
Commute: Bus
Advice for new students: Do not be too scared or nervous. It is not so bad.