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First Place Transition Academy Celebrates Inaugural Graduation


On May 12, the inaugural First Place Transition Academy, operated by SARRC graduating class walked the stage during the GateWay Community College (GWCC) commencement ceremony, marking the end of a two-year program and a step closer to living an independent life.

The ceremony included Academy students, who received a certificate in Independent Living, and more than 200 GWCC graduates. 

Academy graduate Jake Boettcher is looking forward to getting his own apartment and living independently.

"I hope to attend Arizona State University, join a community baseball team and pursue photography," says Jake.

Within the Transition Academy program, SARRC teaches independent living skills such as daily living, social and employment skills. Classes on finances, interpersonal relationships, advocacy and personal safety are held at GWCC and taught by SARRC staff, who also serve as adjunct faculty.

“Our partnership with First Place Transition Academy, operated by SARRC has become part of the culture at GateWay,” GWCC Counseling Division Chair Frank Zamora says. “We don't view Academy students as different in any way than the general population of students we serve. We strive to be student-ready for everyone who comes through our doors.”

GWCC hopes to integrate future Academy students through student life and leadership programs, increased employments opportunities on campus and placing students into higher-level occupational programs where their knowledge and talents can be used to the fullest.

“We’re all incredibly proud. The students have grown immensely over the last two years,” SARRC Residential Transition Academy Director Paige Raetz said. “We now have these individuals who will be living independently and contributing to the community through their new careers.”

For the last two years, the three graduates, as well as their first-year Academy peers, have been living in a multigenerational property that integrates seniors with students.

“They will continue to shape our inclusive community that continues to grow in Phoenix,” Raetz says. “They are forever linked to the program; they are our first graduates.”

On graduating from the Academy, Ian McCoy (pictured) says, "I’m looking forward to working a full time job and on my new journey in life."


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