Inclusive Post Secondary Program opens the door to student with big dreams

Determined to become a Mount Royal Criminal Justice graduate, David Nicholson is immersing himself in the Mount Royal community.

After finishing his first semester of classes (winter 2015), Nicholson is ready to take on the next syllabus that will get him one step closer to a Criminal Justice degree.

"I wanted to come to Mount Royal University because of all the opportunities it offered for me to get an education like any other student," says Nicholson. "I'm really excited to take two more classes next semester and continue to make friends."

Nicholson began his post-secondary journey in Open Studies through the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) program, an accessibility service at Mount Royal. The program provides support to students with developmental disabilities so that they can explore their potential, develop friendships in and outside of the classroom and pursue their academic dreams - for Nicholson, the ultimate dream is to work with the Calgary Police Service.

"For many years, David's dream has been to be a university student," says Nicholson's mother, Barbara Nicholson. "To have his dream realized has been more than either of us could have hoped for."

While taking on a course load that has been modified to meet Nicholson's learning needs, the sports enthusiast can also be found channeling his inner Johnny Gaudreau, playing on one of Mount Royal's intramural ball hockey teams.

David Nicholson, from Mount Royal's IPSE program, is immersing himself in the Mount Royal community.

Brandy McComb, educational facilitator, IPSE, who has supported Nicholson during his studies at Mount Royal, sees Nicholson's student journey as an example that may open the doors for other adults with developmental disabilities who want to pursue the career path of their dreams.

"Before becoming enrolled in Open Studies, David took a part-time class through the Transitional Vocational Program (TVP) - this sparked his interest in becoming a university student," says McComb.

"The TVP program offers courses that focus on teaching adults with disabilities life skills, but David wanted the opportunity to take regular university classes and be a part of the exciting university experience other students get to enjoy."

The IPSE program has worked closely with faculty, staff and students to facilitate relationships and a learning environment that Nicholson cherishes today.

Although the IPSE program has long-standing relationships with programs such as the Bachelor of Health and Physical Education, the Bachelor of Communication and Social Work, Nicholson is the first to jump start a connection between IPSE and the Criminal Justice program.

Nicholson says he will be on a number of Special Olympic teams over the summer, including baseball and floor-hockey. He has yet to decide between power lifting and basketball so that he can eventually become a triathlete.

In the Fall semester of 2015, the determined student and budding athlete hopes to take one introductory class in Criminology as well as an elective in the Physical Literacy area of study.

In the future, he hopes to be able to take a greater course load and collaborate with more faculty to reach his academic goals.

To learn more about the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Program and the Transitional Vocational Program offered at Mount Royal, visit

May 21, 2015 - Laura Camelo Garcia