As Jaurique McClain was finishing up his final year at South Side Occupational Academy, he heard about the new After 22 pilot program that was launching at Daley College. The program connects adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to career training, educational opportunities, and jobs. It was perfect timing. Jaurique, who was diagnosed with autism at age three, was 22 at the time, meaning he was close to aging out of the traditional school system.

Growing up on the South Side, Jaurique attended Chicago Public Schools all throughout his childhood and early adulthood. He went to Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences before attending South Side Occupational Academy, where he started learning skills to fuel his success in the workforce.

Now, as a student at Daley, he’s continuing to build that knowledge through academic, life skills, and job-related coursework. According to Jaurique, the program is making a big impact.

“Before Daley, I was not comfortable advocating for myself or asking questions. It stressed me out because I didn’t want my classmates to learn what I didn’t know,” he said. “But at Daley, all of my instructors treated me and my classmates as equals. They truly respected me. To my surprise, I began to feel like an adult for the first time. I started asking questions without stressing out.”

Jaurique is also advocating for himself through the One Summer Chicago (OSC) program, the City of Chicago’s summer jobs program for Chicagoans aged 14-24.  Jaurique also interned at Mesirow through Anixeter, one of After 22’s partners. There, he’s helping employees prepare for meetings by getting the rooms ready, organizing materials, and more. He also interned at Daley College earlier this summer, where he worked in the Registrar’s Office, taking notes during phone calls and filing paperwork.

Jaurique says his experiences in One Summer Chicago and Mesirow are bringing out his personality, and his mom agrees. Between OSC and After 22, Janice McClain says she’s noticed a difference in her son’s intellectual abilities and his confidence. Jaurique will continue to work at Mesirow until fall classes start at Daley and he begins the second year of the After 22 program.

“I am really enjoying the college experience,” Jaurique said. “My experience as a student at Daley has changed me as a person in a positive way.”

Once he has completed After 22, Jaurique’s goal is to work in a retail stockroom. He knows he’ll need organizational skills to be successful, and the experience he’s gained through OSC and Mesirow this summer is sure to support him as he prepares to transition into the workforce full-time.

"My One Summer Chicago duties at Mesirow are similar to the duties that would be required for me at my future job as a retail stocker."

Jaurique McClain