The students received a blast from the future when the students in Suzanne Bernier’s Apartment Life class were visited by three alumni who have demonstrated consistent success in the realm of employment and independent living. On Wednesday, April 13, 2022…Andrew Maggio, Amy Maiorano, and Tor Kronbichler (left to right in the photo with Suzanne) stopped by to talk about their experiences working with the staff in the Transitions Program, which is the next sequence of the College Experience for those alumni who wish to continue receiving services.

Suzanne chimed in with her wisdom and reminded the students that having more freedom and less staff oversight seems like a dream come true at the beginning. But at the same time, it may also be difficult when they come home after a long day in the workplace and have to tell “themselves” to do the dishes or complete any number of household responsibilities before their living space atrophies into disarray! Suzanne also spoke of the importance of calling 911 if they believe something could be a true emergency. She assured the soon-to-be-alumni students that the paramedics will not scream at them or get them into legal trouble if their frantic phone call turns out to be a false alarm made by impulsive panic. Suzanne was a paramedic at one point and knows from experience that there is no harm in calling 911 when a person thinks something is terribly wrong.

Amy spoke of arguments with her former roommate when the friendship within the program did not translate to harmonious co-habilitation as alumni. (Lesson Learned: Think twice before moving in with your best friend or at least have a plan in place to handle the inevitable conflicts when personalities and habits clash!) Andrew talked about his career working at Marshalls and Burlington Coat Factory while Amy has been building her culinary skills in a bakery at a local Hannaford’s Supermarket. And last but not least, Tor has had employment experience at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Being an adult can come with liberties, but there is also hard work that is expected to maintain these freedoms. Suzanne warned the students that if things get too out-of-hand, there are natural consequences. For example, a former alumnus kept his apartment in such a squalid condition that his landlords had no choice other than to evict him. The students sprinkled their tales of success with occasional horror stories considering we want the students to be prepared and learn from the tales emerging from the School of Hard Knocks.

We hope that our students will emerge from “mistakes” as stronger individuals while seeing it as an opportunity to dispense such wisdom to their younger peers who should not have to learn every single lesson on their own.