Guilherme Campos’ family never thought that he would go to college. Twenty-three-year-old Guilherme has Down syndrome, and for much of his life, had struggled with traditional academics. His family assumed that a university education was out of the question. But more than two years ago, his mother discovered that Guilherme had enrolled in the gastronomy course at the Universidade Anhembi Morumbi (UAM) without telling anyone. As he prepared to take the entrance exam, she wondered if a course of this type might be a fit for her son.
Guilherme passed the entrance exam, and for the past two years, has studied gastronomy at UAM. He is the first student with a disability to ever participate in the course, and when he graduated in December 2016, was the first to ever matriculate. During his time at the institution, he persevered despite many challenges that come from having a disability, but was assisted by many professors and peers. At first, his mother attended classes with him, but soon discovered that this was not going to be necessary, and Guilherme tackled his studies all on his own.
At UAM, reaching out to the community and minority groups is not a new initiative. The institution places a special emphasis on inclusion and services that benefit both their students and community.
“Universidade Anhembi Morumbi is very connected to our society and supports communities’ needs,” said Cristiane Alperstedt, Director of Academic Quality and Regulation at UAM. “In Brazil, 24 percent of the population has some sort of disability, so we must be inclusive and sensitive to their needs in everything that we do.”
Last year, UAM provided more than 2,500 psychological services to students and their parents, and the number of disabled students attending the institution has been steadily increasing, and UAM has integrated inclusion and diversity measures across all of their departments.
“Our approach at UAM towards inclusion and serving disabled persons is very unique, and this makes us very proud,” Alperstedt said.
As for Guilherme, after his graduation from UAM, he started looking for a job, and was excited to apply all that he had learned over the past two years. His initiative and dedication is paying off, and he will begin working in the bakery division of a local restaurant in Sao Paulo. As he prepares each day to go to the bakery to do work he loves, he will most likely think back on all of the steps that led him here, thankful for the many opportunities and challenges that he has already experienced.
To learn more about UAM’s social responsibility and inclusion work, contact Cristiane Alperstedt (firstname.lastname@example.org).