A newspaper article evolved into a scholarship: Family gives to Transition & Access Program at CECH

Regan ConnorA newspaper article inspired Elizabeth Burress to reach out to the University of Cincinnati’s College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services (CECH). After reading about students in CECH’s Transition and Access Program (TAP) in her local newspaper and its impact on students, Burress wanted to help.

As part of Advancement & Transition Services in CECH, TAP is a four-year college program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. TAP students live on campus, take classes, join student organizations and work on life skills.

Reading about TAP’s impact on people’s lives made an impression on Burress because of her personal volunteer history. As a teenager, she volunteered at Camp Stepping Stones, a nonprofit providing pathways to independence for people with disabilities. As an adult, she has been an education aide in the Sycamore Community School District.

This experience and a mutual love of UC sparked a conversation between Elizabeth and husband Brian, BS ‘91.

“We know the expenses some of these students have—wheelchairs, medicines, speech boards, therapies—and a lot of families can’t afford to send them to school,” Elizabeth said. “We want these students to have access to college.”

The kind and generous nature of Elizabeth and Brian caused them to set up a scholarship fund doing exactly this—supporting TAP students and providing life-changing opportunities. By creating the TAP Into The Future Scholarship Fund, the couple are helping students to experience the TAP mission to live, work, learn and lead.

This is certainly what Regan Connors, the first TAP Into the Future scholarship recipient, is experiencing. He’s living on campus, joining clubs and is employed in a dining hall. (He says he loves the food.)

Regan is also working on daily living skills and classes devoted to his future independence.

“I’ve been able to initiate and develop some solid relationships and make good impressions on instructors and fellow students,” Regan said. “My biggest goal is to make relationships.”

A Mason High School graduate, Regan is one of 11 children and spent a year after high school taking classes at the Scarlet Oaks Campus. He loves sports and is taking UC’s Social History of Baseball this semester.

Regan was able to connect with Elizabeth and Brian on a Zoom call. He was able to share that he’s grateful for the help.

“TAP has made a difference because living on campus, I learn independent living skills,” he said. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job, although there is room to grow.”

Elizabeth said the meeting confirmed her belief that everyone should have the opportunity to go to college, whether it’s earning a degree or learning life skills.

“I’ve just been trying to do my job as best I can and I appreciate that someone noticed that I was doing my best and worthy of getting it,” Regan added. “It feels really great that someone wants to help me and TAP students in general.”

Brian and Elizabeth Burress