Spartan Project SEARCH recognized for excellence in inclusion

February 17, 2017

Spartan Project SEARCH students attend a Spartan volleyball game.

Spartan Project SEARCH, led by faculty members in the College of Education, was recognized for its growing impact on the community at the annual Excellence in Diversity Awards (EIDA) at Michigan State University. 

The initiative, introduced to MSU in fall 2016, helps young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities prepare for the workplace through an on-campus internship program.

The program’s co-directors—Assistant Professors Marisa Fisher and Connie Sung of the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education (CEPSE)—were presented with the award on Feb. 13, 2017.

The EIDA program celebrates outstanding efforts of faculty, students, staff and programs at MSU that are committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion.

Marisa Fisher

Spartan Project SEARCH is part of an international program committed to improving outcomes for students during the often-difficult transition from school to work.

In its first weeks, Spartan Project SEARCH helped place 10 students in internships across campus and the community, including animal clinics, residence halls and more.

The project has already made a significant impact, said University Distinguished Professor Michael Leahy. “Every once in a great while, we as scholars are privileged with an opportunity to be involved in a truly remarkable and meaningful project that will impact the lives of people at many different levels. Spartan Project SEARCH is one of those projects.”

The program is part of and supported by the Research in Autism, Intellectual and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (RAIND) initiative at MSU, directed by Leahy.

Connie Sung

“Ultimately, reflecting MSU’s commitment to quality, inclusivity and connectivity, Spartan Project SEARCH will impact the attitudes of all Spartans toward the inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the community,” Leahy continued in a nomination letter for Fisher, Sung and the program. “With the introduction of Spartan Project SEARCH at MSU, Fisher and Sung have provided the foundation for changing the culture of acceptance toward individuals with IDD and, as a result, toward making MSU a more diverse campus.”

Spartan Project SEARCH is funded in part by the Michigan Rehabilitation Services and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

On the web

Hear about the program from the researchers and the students:

Group and Connie Sung photos: Derrick L. Turner / Communications and Brand Strategy