Humber College student is using his personal experience to advocate for people living with disabilities

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When thinking about a future career, many post-secondary students share the goal of making a positive impact in their community. Toronto’s Humber College recognizes that changemakers are needed to create social movements, improve education and public health and protect the environment.

Three years ago, Joey Bognar enrolled in the Bachelor of Community Development program after completing several general arts courses at Humber. He knew that his background and personal experience could help educate others and create a more inclusive community.

“I have cerebral palsy and a nonverbal learning disability. I want to use my experiences in a positive manner, advocating for people who are facing barriers because of their disabilities,” says Bognar. “Educating the public about what it feels like to live with a disability and teach them how to accept others will make the world a better place for everyone.”

Like most students, Bognar was pleasantly surprised by the academic and personal support offered at Humber College, especially within the Faculty of Social & Community Services. Through on-the-job training combined with classroom learning, expert faculty members ensure that graduates are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experience that employers seek.

Within the first year of the Bachelor of Community Development program, students learn how to lead projects, advocate for people who face barriers, and work effectively within communities. Later in the program, the focus shifts to the in-depth study of program development, advanced issues in community development, social movements, and senior thesis work.

The practical training, services, and support provided to students throughout their journey at Humber set them up for academic success that will extend well into their careers.

“After I earn my bachelor’s degree in Community Development, I’d like to pursue a master’s degree in Critical Disability Studies at York University,” says Bognar. 

But in the meantime, Bognar has the practicum portion of his program to look forward to. The work-integrated learning experiences give students an advantage when entering the field after graduation. Humber students don’t have to struggle to connect with industry professionals – they’ve already fostered relationships with several organizations and associations. 

Bognar has his sights set on two potential work experience positions, both through the LAMP Community Health Centre in Toronto. In one of the positions, he would help seniors stay connected with their loved ones by teaching them how to use technological devices. In the other, Bognar would be part of a health promotion program that supports people with physical disabilities. 

“Growing up, I found that a lot of people didn’t understand what cerebral palsy was or what it was like to live with a disability so I didn’t always feel accepted,” says Bognar. “But the professors and students at Humber have been very welcoming. I’m lucky to have found a school where everyone is so caring and supportive.”

All students have access to program advisors and other support staff for assistance when it comes to course registration, managing workloads, and even dealing with personal challenges.

“If you ever need clarification on a subject when you’re studying at home, you can message the professor and they’ll respond very quickly. For me, it’s really important to build solid relationships and connections with the professors and advisors,” says Bognar.

A career within the field of community development is best suited for people who hope to drive change within certain groups or by working with individuals on a one-on-one basis. Those who find fulfillment and success in the industry also understand the importance of celebrating small victories. 

“Working in community engagement and development can be tough, sometimes even grueling,” says Morris Beckford, a professor at the Faculty of Social & Community Services. “It takes people who are patient, continuously self-reflective, and self-motivated.”

The Faculty for Social & Community Services also offers a variety of other programs for full-time students and those continuing their education on a part-time basis. Programs include Community and Justice Services, Social Service Work, Addictions and Mental Health, Child and Youth Care, Criminal Justice, and Police Foundations.

Browse the collection of community engagement programs here.

Programs have intakes in the fall, winter and some in the spring, providing students with several options. 

Humber College Continuing Education

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