Fall semester, Drew Shulman will head back to Georgia Tech along with 27,000 others. He is positioned for his last of four years in the Tech Excel Program for young adults with special needs.
Excel stands for Expanding Career, Education and Leadership, and there are about 40 students in the program who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.
For Shulman, the program means classrooms, tests, independent living and like the most industrious of students – a concurrent job.
As a younger child, Shulman attended The Davis Academy AMIT program, which he referred to as both “interesting and stressful,” highlighted by the class trip to Israel. The Davis Academy lists being a menschlichkeit community as a core value.
From there, he attended The Cottage School, a nonsectarian school in Roswell, which focuses on special needs for middle and high school students “fulfilling their true potential as confident, productive and independent adults.”
Some of his hobbies at that time were archery and photography, though he says sometimes it was hard to be patient to stand for a long time to get “just the right shot.”
Now at Tech, he is all over the campus, riding the bus, and honing his life skills like budgeting, public speaking, resume production and time management. The Excel program assigns various Tech students as mentors to work with Drew’s group.
“I have one overall coach and then others that teach us cooking, nutrition, social and academic skills … usually all meeting at least once a week,” he said.
Shulman has also taken electives such as psychology and technological innovation. “The Sustainability of Technology and Policy was pretty hard as we had to read about 26 pages a night!”
In addition to classwork, students receive help with job placement from the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. Currently Drew is working at Hotel Indigo as a check-in desk clerk. “Actually, checking in is a lot harder than checking people out,” Shulman said. “Since I am pretty good with technology, I am also able to help out some of the other workers when computers have problems.”
Prior to this job, Shulman worked in a dog day care facility and at the Atlanta Humane Society. Being around the family dog, Juno, a Bernedoodle, he enjoyed those jobs the most. “The dogs were always so happy to see me. That was the most fun job so far.”
Shulman lives near the Tech campus in an apartment with three other young men. He likes keeping up with friends on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, where he likes to mix up stories with his photos.
Like most young adults, his cellphone is at his nimble fingertips. He was especially proud of a new app he’s been fine-tuning where he can give quick instructions, such as for translating languages. This was well above my head, but it looked pretty cool, especially when he bade me farewell in Hebrew. Also, he has developed a shortcut to text Mom “SAFE” when he arrives at destinations. Often, he travels via Lyft.
His parents are Dr. Rhonda Taubin, a brain injury physician at Shepherd Center, and Dr. Scott Shulman, an internist at Laureate Medical Group.
Watch for more accomplishments from Shulman. Graduation this spring, here he comes!