Skip to main content
Stepping Forward

Stepping Forward

Employee and family honor relative through S.T.E.P.S. scholarship for those with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

Betty Sullivan, a registered nurse in the Health Services Center on TCC Northwest, is joining with her family to help others take big steps forward.

Sullivan and her loved ones recently celebrated her 75th birthday by working with the Tarrant County College Foundation to establish the Kenneth David McClelland Endowed Scholarship—designed to help those with developmental or intellectual disabilities enroll in the College’s S.T.E.P.S. (Skills, Training and Enrichment for Promoting Success) program.

The scholarship honors the life of Sullivan’s brother, who didn’t let disability stop him from achieving goals, said Tom Sullivan, Betty Sullivan’s son. Kenneth McClelland’s career included three decades in catering services at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.

Betty Sullivan and her family“We felt that his achievements deserved special recognition because he grew up in the 1960s, at a time when there weren’t many opportunities or much hope for people with learning disabilities,” Tom Sullivan said. “We wanted people in similar situations to know about his life and to see that, like him, they too could achieve their goals and lead fulfilling, relatively independent lives if they choose.”

Starting in fall 2022, the scholarship will offer up to $960 in tuition assistance for up to four semesters to qualifying S.T.E.P.S. students who are pursuing skills and credentials that they will use to enter the workforce.

Kenneth David McClellandThe Sullivan family sees the scholarship as a way to honor McClelland by translating his spirit and character into tangible assistance.

“TCC has been an important part of my life, and I have seen the spirit of inclusion that is so important to helping students from all walks of life to integrate into the student body and build a sense of community,” said Betty Sullivan, who has been with TCC since 2009.

We wanted to give someone else a chance to do the same thing, to see that the world is open to all students who are willing and able to participate in the educational process. This scholarship may be the means by which we can help some student to lead a better quality, more fulfilling life by contributing to developing a more independent lifestyle.

Betty Sullivan, registered nurse in the Health Services Center TCC Northwest

The S.T.E.P.S. initiative, which is based at TCC Northeast, is a noncredit program that works with atypical learners to enhance their employability, general education and social skills. The program offers two tracks of study: Transitional Skills as well as College and Careers Preparatory. Both tracks are designed to help students gain the competencies needed to lead relatively independent lives, feel a sense of belonging and interact with others on a daily basis—all things most people take for granted, noted Debra Sykes West, coordinator of Community Education.

“We are helping them to gain the hard and soft skills to integrate into the community and to live their lives in whatever way they pursue and at whatever level they are comfortable with,” said West. “We teach transitional skills for developing self-advocacy, self-development, self-awareness and the ability to investigate options and choices so they can live as normal and happy a life as possible. Sometimes it can be something as simple as managing a checkbook, practicing proper etiquette, using public transportation or navigating basic business forms.

S.T.E.P.S. students dancing“Social normalization also is an emphasis of our program. In terms of interacting and becoming involved in the broader community, we demonstrate the importance and value of relationships with the people and the world around them,” West continued.

Internships and job programs provide opportunities for S.T.E.P.S. students to get experience in a professional setting, including throughout the TCC District. Students spend a semester learning business procedures and providing support services in the geology lab, student library, business services and even the office of a campus president. Off-campus job programs offer opportunities in industries such as food service, freight, security and office/administrative support.

The TCC Foundation saw an immediate connection between the goals of the S.T.E.P.S. program and McClelland’s legacy. “The scholarship’s intent and the program’s purpose align so closely that it is a perfect way to help students to benefit in their personal and professional pursuits,” said Gloria Fisher, coordinator of special projects for the TCC Foundation. “It’s a great example of the important impact that generous donors can have on our students’ lives—and, by extension, on our community and Tarrant County in general.”

More details and applications for the Kenneth David McClelland Endowed Scholarship will be available through the TCC Foundation and the TCC Northeast S.T.E.P.S. program.

Visit the TCC Foundation website to get more information about the TCC Foundation or to make a gift for student scholarships at TCC.