West Chester University’s Career Center and D-CAP Program Win National Award

Nace Award WinnersWest Chester University’s Twardowski Career Development Center and the Dub-C Autism Program were recently recognized with a prestigious award from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE.)

The 2020 NACE Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was bestowed to West Chester University for a sensory-friendly recruiting event held on West Chester University's campus in November 2019. The Connect and Learn Meet-up (CALM) was a program designed to provide Dub-C Autism Program students, as well as other West Chester University students with disabilities, the opportunity to connect with employers more comfortably and confidently. At the event, West Chester University students practiced professional networking, discussed job and internship opportunities, and engaged in conversations around workplace culture and industry insights. The event was much smaller than a typical career fair, and students were offered assistance, if needed, with introductions and in other areas. 

“We are excited and grateful for this industry recognition,” says Jennifer Rossi Long ’05, senior director of the Twardowski Career Development Center. “We hope this program can be a model that other colleges and universities can use to better support their students' career and professional development.”

Long adds, “Today’s employers are evolving hiring practices to allow individuals with autism and other disabilities to best showcase their experience and skills throughout the interview and hiring process. However, the ways in which these students are expected to connect with employers has remained static on many college campuses. We wanted to be proactive for our students in this area.”

Craig Single, director of talent acquisition at Vertex Inc., one of the employers in attendance and a sponsor of the event says, “Vertex Inc. was proud to support the inaugural CALM event at West Chester University. For over two years we have been dedicated to identifying opportunities for neurodivergent candidates at our company. We saw West Chester University's CALM event as a great way to make connections with current students and future candidates who could thrive at our company, and hopefully find meaningful work where their knowledge, skills and abilities would be recognized and rewarded.”

The event received positive feedback from both student and employer audiences, with over 90% of those surveyed saying they would participate again in the future, and over 80% of students saying they felt more confident interacting with employers.

For the same event, the Career Development Center also received the Innovation in Diversity & Inclusion Award from the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers. Both 2020 awards, typically presented at annual conferences, will be bestowed at virtual events held later this year.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers is a professional association that connects over 9,600 college career services professionals; over 3,300 university relations and recruiting professionals; and over 300 business solution providers that serve this community. The NACE Awards honor members' outstanding achievements in the career services and HR/staffing professions. Excellence Awards are judged through an application process based on content, design, creativity, innovation, measurable outcomes and ease of replication in the categories of Career Services, Recruiting, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Technology.

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