TigerLIFE: Providing Opportunities Beyond High School

TigerLIFE: Providing Opportunities Beyond High School

Autumn Lee, Journalist

On August 28, a new freshman class of 24 students will begin TigerLIFE at the University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID).  The goal of TigerLIFE is to give students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) additional education and job training beyond high school. The program is available to students ages 18-29 to gain academic, social, vocational, and independent living skills.

Nationally, only 14-16% of

persons with IDD will ever participate in competitive employment (that is, employment earning above the minimum wage). TigerLIFE provides an opportunity for students to compete in a challenging work environment and has a job placement rate of 76%. Through a 60 credit hour, four semester program, TigerLIFE students attend classes with typical university students and participate in job internships. At the completion of the program, students receive a certificate in Career and Community studies. TigerLIFE students are employed at area businesses such as Lowes, Fed-Ex, UPS, Bass Pro Shop, Shelby County Schools, Panda Express, and Highlands of Memphis Nursing Home.

Students in TigerLIFE come from high schools throughout Shelby County, including Houston and Germantown High School, as well as surrounding areas. The program is one of the largest in the country, with about 100 students currently enrolled.  Maurice Williams, Associate Director, remarked, “We change lives. When students first come to us, their heads will be down.  They won’t look you in the eye. When they leave, they’re full of confidence. It’s just amazing to see.”

For more information about TigerLIFE, visit http://www.memphis.edu/tigerlife