Wolverines Elevated Endowment

Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism

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Support Utah Valley University’s post-secondary program for individuals with intellectual disabilities

Utah faces one of its most significant challenges in education for those with intellectual disabilities. Nearly 12 percent of students in Utah are identified as having an intellectual disability. To date, there has been no clear pathway for students with intellectual disabilities to transition from high school to higher education. In October 2020, Utah Valley University (UVU) was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a statewide alliance to promote post-secondary education for adults with intellectual disabilities. UVU’s program, Wolverines Elevated, offers these individuals a gateway to enriching and independent lives. The federal grant will fund the launch and initial years of the program, but we need your help to ensure its success for generations.
We invite you to visit here to learn more about our programs, events, and trainings and here for information regarding Wolverines Elevated.

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Other Ways to Give

Every gift is meaningful and appreciated. You are welcome to make a donation of any size to support our students. If you'd like to create a legacy, please consider signing up for a monthly recurring gift that will have a lasting impact on future students and educators. Together, we uplift, provide exceptional care, and inspire students to be their very best.

For more information on ways to establish a legacy gift, such as through a will, bequest, trust, annuity, or IRA rollover, please visit uvgift.org.

If you prefer to donate via check, please make checks payable to UVU Foundation and mail to the address below. Please list "Wolverines Elevated" in the memo field.

UVU Foundation
800 W University Pkwy MS 111
Orem, UT 84058

UVU employees are welcome to sign up for payroll deduction using the Employee Giving form.

Inspiring Stories

Boy fighting odds

Against All Odds

Jayson Heath has always been focused on education. “I wanted to go to college my whole life.” He had many interests like aviation, computer science, and space. His mother, Megan, encouraged him to investigate and learn, but she worried. Jayson was born with development disabilities and diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at seven years old. He struggled to read, and he couldn’t write.
“I wondered if it would even be possible for him to attend college,” his mother shared.
In the four years following high school, Jayson’s college dream seemed unlikely. He and his family researched Utah State’s Aggies Elevated program, but two surgeries were in the way.
The first surgery in 2017, was to correct Scheuermann's kyphosis, a severe spinal curvature that would have otherwise left him confined to a wheelchair by the time he was 30. Thanks to two titanium rods, 26 screws, and a year of recovery, his spine was finally straight.
He relearned how to walk, and started a job at Walmart in 2019. But one day during his shift, he called his mom to complain of a stabbing, blinding headache. It turned out to be a golf ball-sized brain tumor. After an emergency craniotomy, the pain went away, but something else magical happened. He was able to move his eyes for the first time in his life, which allowed him to learn how to fluently read.
“I’ve read “Phantom Menace” and the Harry Potter series,” he says.
He recovered. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He picked up cycling and started riding his scooter long distances. And then, he heard about the Utah Valley University’s Wolverines Elevated program.
“Due to my disabilities, school has been a challenge for me, but my parents and I did research and found Wolverines Elevated, and it has been very good to me,” he says.
In his first semester, he is taking courses on stress management, majors and careers, self-determination, career development, and English. In addition to his core classes, he is experiencing college life and loves the UVU culture.
“My favorite thing at UVU are the fun events,” he says. “I went to go see the “Queen’s Cartoonist” and I could not believe how talented the musicians were. Also, the Wendy’s on campus is really good.”
For Megan, seeing her oldest child persevere and be able to attend college is a dream come true.
“Everyone deserves the chance to learn if they want to, and no one puts more time and effort into learning than Jayson,” she says. “For him to be enrolled in college classes, learning skills – it is incredible to see as a parent. Just because he has a difference in the way that he learns does not mean he can’t learn. Wolverines Elevated has been the answer to our prayers. He is going to come away with so much because of UVU.”


Jason paddleboarding

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