Students with intellectual disabilities can earn customer relations certificate

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — With the support of a grant from the D.R.E.A.M. Partnership, Penn State Harrisburg will once again offer an inclusive post-secondary program in customer relations in spring 2016. The program provides the opportunity for students with intellectual disabilities to complete customer relations coursework in a fully integrated classroom, participate in life skills coursework and campus activities, and explore career opportunities in the workplace. Completion of the program leads to a customer relations certificate.

Launched in fall 2015, the customer relations certificate is available to individuals with intellectual disabilities, ages 18 to 25. Applicants may still be enrolled in high school or another program supported by their school district or charter school, and be dually enrolled in this program. Applicants who are no longer in school are also eligible to apply.

“This program offers the chance for any student to enhance their customer relations skills, skills that are incredibly valuable in any industry. It is exciting that through our partnership with D.R.E.A.M. we are also able to offer the course to those who may not normally qualify for post-secondary experiences,” said Linda Rhen, assistant professor of special education and course facilitator. “I am proud to be a part of a university that welcomes diversity and inclusion, and I hope that the success of this program will lead to our ability to offer more of these opportunities.”

The program aims to deliver relevant coursework in an inclusive setting and to provide students with intellectual disabilities peer support, integration into the campus community, job training, as well as work experiences/practicums that are intended to assist students in obtaining competitive employment. Upon completion of the full certificate program, eligible students are also offered the opportunity to take the National Retail Federation Customer Service Sales Certification exam.

The Customer Relations Certificate Program is structured so that students spend two half days participating in work experience with local employers and one half day in coursework on campus. The course also provides students with the opportunity to become part of the campus community. Penn State Harrisburg has a variety of student organizations, student activities and opportunities for volunteer and work experience on campus.

The spring program runs from Jan. 12 to May 3. A detailed schedule can be found here. For more information and to apply, visit

Last Updated January 22, 2016