In 2021, the Belin-Blank Center created a new university-based program, the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality. This program provides individualized support to University of Iowa students who are twice-exceptional. We define twice-exceptional as learners who demonstrate the potential for high achievement or creative productivity in one or more domains AND who manifest one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria.
By collaborating with our university partners, we can offer a support structure that addresses academics, practical skills, and social-emotional needs. Once accepted into the program, a student receives services from admission through graduation.
We recently sat down with one of our Academy for Twice-Exceptionality students so he could share his story.
Q: What is one of your favorite things at the University of Iowa?
A: I really like the closeness of everything. Because the town is right next to the university, it is easy to get to both classes and stores. The way that the two are organized makes it very walkable.
Q: What is your major?
A: I am majoring in biomedical engineering. Although I haven’t decided exactly how I want to use my degree in the future, I am interested in a career with a research focus on things to be used in the medical field. I would like to be employed in a setting that designs something to help people, like prosthetics, medical software, or imaging technology.
Q: What are your areas of talent?
A: My talent areas are definitely mathematics and music. Math has always come to me pretty simply. My major requires a lot of mathematics, so I know in the future, I will be using it in my job. The engineering courses at Iowa have developed my math talent, specifically through real-life application problems and experiences. I used to sing in a chorus in school but haven’t joined any musical groups on campus. I do listen to music a lot at home.
Q: How did you hear about the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality?
A: I am not sure how I first heard about it, but it was in a few different ways. I was identified as twice-exceptional later in life. My clinician in Des Moines told me about it. My parents also talked to me about it. I also am active with the Autism Society of Iowa. I believe I heard something about the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality through that group as well.
Q: What do you feel has been the biggest benefit of the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality for you as a student?
A: Getting to know people with the same mindset as me. Other students in the Academy seem to have the same way of thinking that I do. Sometimes when I talk to people, I don’t think they are on the same wavelength as me. In the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, people have similar thought processes as me.
Q: What do you do to take care of yourself, especially your mental health, during the school year?
A: I know that I get nervous. Now, I know how to calm myself down. I lie down and listen to music. I have been doing this for a long time. During the school year, I have to be careful not to lie down and listen to music for too long.
Q: What extracurriculars are you involved in on campus?
A: I am a supplemental instructor for a course through the Academic Retention Center at Iowa. I pair the lecture’s content in my sessions by assisting students who are having difficulty with the content through problems (including ones I have them create). I am also involved with Parkview Church in Iowa City.
Q: What is something you would like other prospective students to know about the Academy of Twice-Exceptionality?
A: Coming into it, I didn’t know what the support method would be like, so others should know it combines one-on-one meetings with a professional and community sessions with the entire group.
Q: What is a goal you have for yourself this semester?
A: My main goal is to do the best I can in my classes. Previously in classes, I didn’t study too well or prepare enough for projects. This might be a difficult goal, but my goal is a 4.0 for this semester.
Q: What are three fun facts about you?
- I have triplet cousins.
- My parents have had a total of three sphinx cats (they still have two).
- My favorite philosophical book is The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
If you are interested in learning more about the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, check out our website. The Academy for Twice-Exceptionality could be the right fit for you!