Dream Comes True For Hickory Girl - New York News

Dream Comes True For Hickory Girl

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    I am a Digital Journalist based in Hickory. I cover Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Iredell and Watauga counties. I was born in Weaverville, NC. My high school dream was to be a White House correspondent, then college happened and I got involved with the radio station at Western Carolina University.
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Hickory, NC -

Ali Hale is going to college. For this Hickory young lady, it is a major milestone.

“In my case, I would like to go to college because I love school,” said Ali Hale. “So, I can have my own experience to live on my own and I can have a dog and have a wonderful life.”

Ali’s mom, Pam Hale, is not surprised by her daughter’s success.

“She has Down’s Syndrome, which is really the only thing that makes her different than the other kids,” said Pam Hale. “She’s never put any perimeters on herself, and we’ve never put any perimeters on her.”

For the past two years, Ali has been attending Catawba Valley Community College’s Compensatory Education Program.

“It’s really about understanding life outside of the traditional educational setting,” said Garrett Hinshaw, president, Catawba Valley Community College. “Learning skills to advance in their academic capacity and also to advance in their everyday life capacity.”

Now, she has been accepted to Western Carolina University’s University Participant (UP) Program.

“Typically, students who are 18 to 25, who have an intellectual disability, and those that have been involved in their community who have been doing things to get networked,” said Kelly Kelley, WCU’s UP program, “and who also want to work in competitive employment, and live as independently as possible when they finish our program in two years.”

Needless to say, Ali is excited.

“In my case, I would like to go to college because I love school,” said Ali. “I love learning.”

Ali’s dad, Jeff Hale, credits the community with helping her reach this milestone.

“This community has been so fantastic in not only accepting Ali,” Jeff Hale said, “but also just being incredibly supportive in a whole myriad of ways; and we feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to raise our family here.”

Ali is preparing to join her new friends in Cullowhee at Western Carolina University this fall, and she says she is looking forward to supporting her school.

“To be involved,” Ali said. “To celebrate the Catamounts and I can show the spirit.”

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