Luke Stevens is only eighteen years old is currently a highly successful freshman at the College Experience. Luke was interviewed in the common area of his home, which is as neat as a pin thanks to his housemates diligently following the chore schedule.

Luke was born on March 26, 2002 and spent much of his childhood in Plattsburgh, NY. He has an older sister named, Charlotte who is working two jobs and renting an apartment. His brother, Grayson is a senior at Ithaca College. “My mother has been a pharmacist for longer than I have been alive!” he states with a chuckle. Like all of our students, no matter how tenacious the individual effort may be…nothing could have been achieved without the support of a family who has their back.

“My family has taught me so many things,” Luke asserts. “They have pretty much been my main support. They have taught me how to make friends. They have given me advice on how to deal with certain situations. Another thing my family has taught me is that you cannot do more than your best. But there is such a thing as learning to be your better self. One thing that my mother has definitely taught me is that when I was thinking about retaking my English Regents, she told me this imaginary phrase,”

Depending on how far you want to go in life, do you want to take the left staircase or the right staircase? And if you choose to take the left staircase, you would probably go further to where you would want to be in life.

One accomplishment Luke is proud of is graduating from high school last year with a New York State Regents Diploma. Luke continues,

“Even though I struggle with reading and writing, it will not stop me! And so one of the reasons why I am also here is because every task that comes my way…I have put in my best effort. My number one worst fear is failure. A couple more people who have inspired me are my senseis from the Jujitsu class because at many times when I was in their class, not only did they help me or teach me to become better in self-defense…they taught me their three logos of their class, which is to work hard, stay humble, and never quit.”

Luke opened up about having autism during the interview, and it was not until he was in the second grade when his family and teachers realized something was different. It took Luke a little longer to keep up with the work like the other classmates, which prompted his mother to take him to get some testing done.

“It turns out after all the pain in the neck testing, I was diagnosed with autism. If it was not for my mother, I would not have had the special education in high school. If it were not for those small classes in high school, I would have struggled in those regular-sized classes. Some of the information would not have made sense to me. I would not have passed my classes, and I would not be here in the College Experience.”

Luke once again pointed to the influence of his mother when he says, “If it was not for my mother convincing me to write that letter to be accepted into the program, I do not know where I would be. So far, this program has probably been the best experience of my life! It will change my thoughts about things a lot. Not only is it teaching me life skills, but I am pretty much learning by becoming my stronger, smarter, more independent self. Some reasons why the College Experience at the College of Saint Rose has changed my life is because the staff has taught me to be independent, how to make more friends, and how to get involved with other communities that I am not familiar with. One more reason why I like this program is because I don’t have a bedtime! But don’t worry, I am a mature student who responsibly goes to bed at reasonable hours. To everyone who is reading this, I highly recommend this program to anyone!”

Luke was asked about his hobbies and things he likes to do for fun. He says, “Some of my hobbies that I will continue at the College Experience are juggling, learning more facts about things, and just being a good friend. I do like to play baseball. I am a Yankees fan, and Derek Jeter will always be my number one favorite even though he is retired. Even though I do not play it as much because I am so occupied by what the program provides…I still play Minecraft here and there. I am also a huge fan of Harry Potter, and that’s actually who I am going to be for Halloween this year!”

“Some clubs that I have joined at the program are Walking Club where we get ourselves familiar with the local community, Nintendo Switch Club where we do a whole bunch of videogaming, Best Buddies where we do a lot of events, and this year we are actually doing Best Buddies groups instead of individual buddies. I have also enjoyed drama club. We are not really doing a play until the spring semester. But the play is about the kids of some of the Disney characters.”

“When I first started the program, I did know a few things, but I was still like a brand-new sponge. I chose to start soaking up information immediately.” Some of my favorite classes so far are Political Culture taught by Mr. Lynch; Google 101; and Community Involvement where we discuss the Events Calendar on the College Experience web site. Whenever we go to events, we get credit for the class. I also like to cook so cooking classes gives me more recipes to consider. I also like Finance and Finance Lab, where in each class we discuss the difference between needs and wants and how to budget our money for different things. The leftover money we put in savings. You never know when you are going to need a little bit of cash! One more class that I like is Personal Relationships where we discuss how to make friends and what traits we look for in friends like trust.”

Luke is already thinking ahead to next year when he and his peers start their internships as seniors. He is planning to do something related to animal care. The last thing Luke wants to emphasize is an attitude that we hope all of our students will adopt regarding their innate challenges.

“If I had the option of not being diagnosed with Autism, I wouldn’t do it because if I was not ever diagnosed with it I wouldn’t be who I am today and wouldn’t ever be myself. People out there with disabilities…do not let people bring you down because it’s who you are and there is only one you. Be the best ‘you’ you can be and be proud of it.”

Well said, Luke. We will continue to anticipate amazing things from you throughout the course of your College Experience career!