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OnePack Empowered Fosters Inclusivity, Serves Neurodivergent Students

OnePack Empowered is a program that serves neurodivergent students at NC State.

In a groundbreaking initiative aimed at fostering inclusivity and support in higher education, NC State has unveiled its latest endeavor: OnePack Empowered, a college program designed specifically for neurodivergent students.

Thanks to the generous funding from Dave Doeren, the NC State football team’s head coach, and his wife, Sara Doeren, OnePack Empowered has been able to embark on its mission to support neurodivergent students at NC State.

Their unwavering support has provided the financial foundation necessary to establish and sustain the program, covering essential expenses such as staffing, resources, training and the creation of specialized spaces like a dedicated coaching room. The Doerens’ commitment to empowering neurodivergent individuals reflects their dedication to fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.

Their generosity not only directly impacts the lives of students participating in OnePack Empowered but also sends a powerful message about the importance of supporting diversity and providing opportunities for all individuals to thrive in higher education. Through their philanthropy, Dave and Sara Doeren have catalyzed positive change at NC State, ensuring that neurodivergent students have the resources and support they need to excel academically, pursue their career goals, and fully engage in the college experience.

Neurodivergent students, including those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia and other cognitive differences, often face unique challenges in navigating academic and career environments. Recognizing the need for specialized support, OnePack Empowered has developed a comprehensive program that addresses the diverse needs of neurodivergent students and equips them with the tools for academic, career, and personal growth.

With a focus on providing tailored support and resources, OnePack Empowered is pioneering a new approach to holistic student success.

“We believe that every student deserves the opportunity to thrive in higher education,” says Sidney Fletcher, program manager of OnePack Empowered. “Our program is designed to create a supportive and inclusive environment where neurodivergent students can realize their full potential.”

The OnePack Empowered program offers a range of services tailored to the specific needs of neurodivergent students, including academic coaching, career coaching, campus relationship building and facilitating the use of other specialized campus services such as counseling and disability support services.

Integral to the program is the emphasis on executive functioning skill coaching, with students engaging in mandatory one-on-one coaching/mentoring sessions each week. These sessions provide tailored organizational support, weekly planning sessions, and guidance aligned with academic and career aspirations. Active participation from students is paramount throughout this process.

The spring 2024 cohort, comprising 15 students from diverse colleges, majors and academic levels, highlighted several prevalent themes, including issues related to self-confidence, accountability, anxiety, ADHD challenges, seeking community, time management skills, motivation and mental health challenges.

“Our goal is not only to support neurodivergent students academically but also to empower them to advocate for themselves and thrive in all aspects of college life,” Fletcher said.

Looking ahead to fall 2024, OnePack Empowered is poised for expansion and innovation. Initiatives include:

  • Doubling enrollment from 15 to 30 students, with a long-term goal of reaching 50 students.
  • Enhanced focus on fostering Neurodivergent community development and forging campus collaborations, identifying space for an additional coaching/mentoring room.
  • Additional program staffing to include a Program Coordinator and Graduate students. Emphasis on internships, site visits and employment opportunities for neurodivergent students. 
  • Career Development programming including workshops and career coaching for student groups.

The launch of the OnePack Empowered program comes at a critical time when awareness of neurodiversity and the importance of inclusion in education and the workforce is growing.

By providing targeted support and resources, OnePack Empowered aims to break down barriers and create a more inclusive and equitable landscape.

This post was originally published in DASA.