By Ann Sullivan
When my son Cody Sullivan (AKA Coach Cody), was born with Down syndrome, I knew he would make a great difference in the world. This has rung true for the past twenty-two years, culminating on April 28th, 2018 when he became the first person with Down syndrome to graduate from higher education.
Cody was included in general education from kindergarten through grade 12. He wasn’t shoved into a secluded classroom where they took trips to the park to pick up litter or wipe down tables in the cafeteria. Cody learned alongside his peers – and just by being included – he taught people that having a disability isn’t scary.
When he was a high school senior, Cody’s friends were delightfully sharing where they were going to college. This inspired him to seek the same. Concordia University Portland agreed to have Cody attend classes and work toward earning a certificate of achievement in elementary education. We have been part of the West Coast Think College Coalition, which is focused on creating opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to attend higher education.
On April 28th, graduation day at Concordia University, Cody was the first person with Down syndrome in Oregon to cross the stage and receive his certificate. As he crossed, his many friends erupted in love and joy with a standing ovation.
Today, Cody works as a Teacher’s Aide at a local charter school.