University Of St. Joseph Gets $3M Donation To Expand Gengras Center

Ann McClure's picture

Samit looks up from his desk in a classroom at the University of St. Joseph, struggling to answer a question about voter registration. "Missy, I need some help," he says to Tiffany Almeida.

Samit, who has autism and is a senior at The Gengras Center, a laboratory school for children with intellectual and other disabilities, reads the question aloud: "What country must you be a citizen in and what state must you be a resident in in order to vote in Connecticut?"

Tiffany, a senior at the university, advises him to take the first part of the question first. "Is it Spain, England, the United States…?" she coaches. "The United States," replies Samit, who wanted to use only his first name, and he neatly writes in the answer.

For more than 45 years, The Gengras Center has been serving students like Samit with special needs while also giving St. Joe's students a chance to put their own classroom learning into practice. But with cramped quarters for the 120 students at the laboratory school, St. Joseph President Pamela Trotman Reid says the center is ready for dramatic growth.

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