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My Manchester Story

Cheyenne Heath

by Mam Samba | Jun 06, 2019

Cheyenne Heath, from Liberty, Ind., is an educational studies major with a concentration in psychology and sociology. Cheyenne’s participation with Manchester’s Center for Service Opportunities helped her realize her dream of working with children with autism, bettering the future of education and fighting for social justice.

How did you become interested in education?

“When I was in high school, I attended vocational school and went for early childhood education. I wasn’t really focused on the young children; I was focused on the administration side of education – which helped me decide to be an elementary education major. However, I ended up changing [my major] over the summer to educational studies, because I found out that I actually want to work with kids who have disabilities and provide their families with effective resources on how to handle having a person in your family with a disability. I’ve been working primarily on the autism spectrum and, in the future, would like to work as a behavioral analyst, which involves testing kids to see if they have autism and providing families with resources to help them understand that your child isn’t broken, but actually your child is a wonderful, smart, gifted individual. I feel like providing the families with crucial information is so important.”

How did you get involved in working with children who have autism?”

 “I actually got involved with the Pathways program through the Center for Service Opportunities [CSO] and spent a summer in Iowa working at Camp Courageous, a camp for people with disabilities - so that’s mental, physical, across the spectrum of disabilities. I spent plenty of my weeks being a camp counselor, but there was one week I enjoyed the most called “Just for You” week. I was told this would be the hardest week because you are given one camper with a severe disability that requires one-on-one care and attention. I had already been spending a lot of one-on-one time with my campers because many of my campers were in wheelchairs and required assistance to move around camp; so, I felt prepared. I ended up paired with Tim, who is a wonderful individual who loves to climb, play jokes and, if he could run away, he probably would. It was kind of a challenge the first day, trying to figure out how he works, because he runs on his own time and does his own thing. Then I realized by the second day that I knew who he was and how to handle him. Long story short, our week consisted of being on a train every day for three hours! We sat on this stationed caboose and he would just sit on it, hang from it, climb on it, and we’d sit there for hours. While sitting there, I just realized that working with those sorts of individuals that are on the spectrum is a wonderful thing and it takes people who have the patience and care and the proper love to do it. I think that was when I realized I could do this as a career. I could definitely work with kids like Tim.”

 “Can you tell me more about the Pathways program?”

 “Pathways is a 6 to 10-week-long summer program, at locations around the world, where you are given $800 to live off of and you spend your time volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about. There are opportunities in Texas, the United Kingdom, Iowa and a lot of other places around the world. I originally planned to go abroad but the other spot I would’ve worked at was a special needs school, and I would’ve worked with individuals that needed extra care and guidance in a boarding school setting; ultimately, I wanted a camp setting so I chose to work in Iowa.”

“What other CSO opportunities have you taken advantage of?”

“The volunteering. I really love working with the Manchester Early Learning Center! I love working with them and the people that are dedicated to providing a holistic experience to the children that go to the preschool there. I also volunteered at the community dinners over the summer, which were fun and I got to meet community members. I really love the animal shelter. It’s super fun and is perfect if you need a fun volunteering experience and want to make a difference. There’s a dog I love named Twinkie; if I could adopt her by the end of the year I would love to.

Why did you choose Manchester?”

“I chose Manchester because my grandpa said it was a tight knit community and I would be in a hometown similar to my hometown. I felt safe at Manchester knowing I wasn’t going to be on a huge campus where I was just a number. Manchester doesn’t make you just a number, it lets you have an individual experience. You’re a person. Throughout my time at Manchester, I’ve worked with CSO and in the education department, and I got to become such good friends with education professors. That’s why I chose Manchester, because those professors care about you and want your education to be valued, and for you to have value in your experience here.”