Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement Graduation 2023!

Jun 22 2023

Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement Graduation 2023!

On June 20th, six participants of our Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement program graduated from their internship positions, celebrating their achievement with parents and loved ones in a small ceremony at the New York-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health in White Plains.

Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement (PS-AE) is a ten-month internship program for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was created by NEXT for AUTISM in partnership with The Arc Westchester, New York-Presbyterian Behavioral Health, and The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB) and is supported by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). PS-AE offers a total immersion in the workplace, facilitating the teaching and learning process, as well as the acquisition of employability and marketable work skills.

Guest speakers included Dr. Philip Wilner, Senior VP and COO, New York-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health, William Kang, Partner at the Law Firm of Keane & Beane, P.C. and a PS-AE Business Advisory Council Member, and our own Tibi Guzman, Executive Director and CEO, The Arc Westchester.

It has been my privilege to watch these six interns grow to become confident and proud graduates who are ready for employment and successful independent lives. The skills they learned and practiced in the PSAE Training Room and at their internship sites at New York Presbyterian Behavioral Health  have prepared them for meaningful employment. I have enjoyed every moment with these young men and women, congratulate them on their achievements, and wish them well in their future endeavors.

When we started the program a little over a decade ago, we never thought that it would become a national model”. 

Dr. Phillip Wilner, Tibi Guzmán, and the 2023 Project SEARCH Graduates!

My parting words to the graduates, take the time to continue to build your skills. The rewards will come with practice, practice and practice. Imagine the joy you will have when you become a member of a business and they recognize and value your talents,

The five young men and 1 young woman then shared about their individual internships, what they learned from each unique experience and their goals for what they would like to accomplish in the future. They made a video presentation of the year in review and each graduate addressed the guests and thanked their staff, internship supervisors, and families for supporting them during this journey. Afterward, The Arc Westchester’s PS-AE Director Nancy Fraher, and Director of Career Development and Support, Shari Lewitt, presented each graduate with certificates to officially recognize their completion of the program.

Our 2023 Project SEARCH Graduation Class!

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