From the series President’s Awards for Excellence 2022

2022 Excellence in Service (Unclassified)

Heather Rando

Heather Rando

Heather Rando, associate director of disability services, received the 2022 President’s Award for Excellence in Service (Unclassified) for her devotion to the student community and her focus on assisting those on the Autism Spectrum.

Her hard work has enabled students to thrive when they otherwise may have struggled.

Rando is responsible for creating the Raiders on the Autism Spectrum Excelling (RASE) Program. Her colleagues regard Rando and the RASE Program incredibly highly, saying the program has made a significant impact on individual students and the Raider community.

Each year, between 15 and 20 students participate in the RASE Program and are assigned to work with peer coaches multiple times a week. These coaches focus on areas that are essential to student success, such as time management, organization, self-advocacy, resiliency, navigating complex social environments and transitioning to a college environment. The RASE Program has an immeasurable impact on both the students and coaches, giving them experiences that will carry into their future beyond Wright State.

Rando created the RASE Program over a decade ago to address the gap between high school and college that led many students on the Autism Spectrum to fall through the cracks. Rando’s colleagues say that the RASE Program perfectly fits Wright State’s mission to create high-quality educational experiences that are available to all.

Retention rates, GPAs and other markers of success for students in the RASE Program far surpass university averages and demonstrate the improved outcomes that the program has had on countless students. Rando’s devotion to the RASE Program brings improvements and innovations to the experience.

Since the program was launched, it has become a recruiting tool to bring students to Wright State who might traditionally enroll elsewhere.

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