People with Down Syndrome and College

For a Society Free of Prejudice

Ayelen Barreiro and her Mom, Raque Alicia.

There are many of stories and experiences of hundred of thousands of people with Down syndrome who have achieved their own happiness by going or not going to college. As Parents, we have many times a tendency to set goals for our kids, based on other's achievements. We're experiencing great and positives changes about perception of people with Down syndrome and their abilities, but to think that every person with Down syndrome is able to attend college is unrealistic, and can set standards hard to comply with.

It's important to remember  that in our intention to create a society free of prejudice that doesn't limit our children, we should never forget that if we are trying to demonstrate that everyone is different and special in his own way, we should never measure our loved ones’ success, based on a degree. In fact, that’s true of anyone we love.

Personal abilities and skills are developed in many ways, and the real success that leads to personal satisfaction is finding in ourselves the things that make us happy and make us feel unique, without competition or comparison of any kind. 

Just like everyone else, people with Down syndrome have different interests based on their abilities. Not everyone—with or without Down syndrome—goes to college. Not everyone gets a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, and realistically, a college degree doesn’t assure anyone a job. College provides us with the tools that expand on our skills and interests to succeed in our endeavors.

It's the ideal option, but should never turn into a rule to measure success. 

Take a look at the following stories of Successful College Graduates Who Have Down Syndrome and Successful People with Down Syndrome Who Did Not Go to College

One of the best-known young men with Down syndrome who graduated from college is Pablo Pineda, a Spaniard with a Master’s degree in education. He is a writer and actor, and has become an inspiration for thousands of new parents of children with Down syndrome, who find in his experience the inspiration and hope for their own children. He’s an advocate and has made it his life’s mission to educate for a world free of prejudice.

He starred in "Yo también". In the movie, Pineda is an example of a more intellectually advanced person with Down syndrome who doesn’t fit with his peers with the same condition, yet neither does he fit with his colleagues at work. 

A different case: The incredulous reaction of Rion Holcombe when he was accepted into college was taped and uploaded to YouTube by his mom. He will be attending a college for people with special needs, but the circumstances do not change the excitement and pride of him and his family. With more than 2 million hits, this video became viral in a few days. 

Ayelén Barreiro is a young Argentinian woman with Down syndrome. She’s engaged to Facu, a handsome and outgoing young man who also has Down syndrome. In 2012, Ayelén was chosen to star one of the most famous Spanish reality shows. For the first time in the history of Latin America, a person with Down syndrome competed in a televised dance contest. Ayelén didn't win the contest, but she demonstrated her tenacity and great technique on the dance floor, and she earned legions of fans.

Haizea Sendón is a Spanish woman who has studied dance since she was a little girl. She was trained by her aunt, who always treated her like she was any other student. Now, Haizea has become a teacher for young kids with and without Down syndrome. She has also stars in the video “Normalidad” (Normality), by well-known Argentinian singer Cuni Massa.

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