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Opportunity Orange Scholars posing at open house
From left: Opportunity Orange Scholars Kaden White, Maggie Suter, Jasmine Loyola and Erica McIver

Department of Education approves Opportunity Orange Scholars as a Comprehensive Transition Program

Friday, October 7, 2022

Media Contact: Kirsi McDowell | Senior Communications Specialist | 405-744-9347 |

Opportunity Orange Scholars, Oklahoma State University’s new postsecondary program for individuals with intellectual disability, has been approved as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Comprehensive transition programs are designed to support students with intellectual disability as they prepare for a future of gainful employment or independent living. Opportunity Orange Scholars welcomed its first cohort of students this fall, becoming the third comprehensive transition program in Oklahoma and one of 158 nationwide. 

“The designation of Opportunity Orange Scholars as a comprehensive transition program is helping ensure the program is financially accessible for all students. For many students with intellectual disability and their families, the cost of attending college is a significant barrier. Becoming approved as a comprehensive transition program means that Opportunity Orange Scholars students can apply for federal financial aid and eligible students can use federal financial aid to help pay for their studies at OSU.”

— Dr. Kami Gallus, associate director of research for the OSU Institute for Developmental Disabilities

Opportunity Orange Scholars offers a two-year, non-degree academic certificate in career and community studies — all while experiencing campus life like a traditional student.

Dr. Emily Tucker, program director of Opportunity Orange Scholars says that the first cohort of students are blazing the trail as freshmen at OSU. The inaugural group includes five individuals between the ages of 18 and 26 who would otherwise not have had the option of attending college in-state due to lack of programs available to meet their support needs. 

“They’re living in the dorms, taking classes, studying and exploring life on campus,” Tucker said. 

Start-up funding for Opportunity Orange Scholars comes from public and private entities, including LeadLearnLive, Developmental Disability Council of Oklahoma, the OSU Foundation and the Institute for Developmental Disabilities — the birthplace of this program. While these funds got the program up and running, Gallus and Tucker have no plans of slowing down. 

“We’re looking forward to seeing the impact of Opportunity Orange Scholars, not only in the careers and long-term successes of our OOS students, but on our campus as a whole. We know and research supports that when universities embrace diverse learners, everyone benefits. As OOS helps to enhance the accessibility of OSU for diverse students, we are excited to see the program and our Cowboy family grow,” said Dr. Kami Gallus, associate director of research for the OSU Institute for Developmental Disabilities. 

Plans for ongoing program development include expanding marketing and communications efforts as well as increasing enrollment to support additional qualified students. With the school year successfully underway, Opportunity Orange Scholars is beginning to recruit future students.

“We hosted our first prospective student day on Sept. 23 and over 20 prospective students attended," Tucker said. "We heard from many prospective students and their family members that without the potential for federal financial aid made possible by the program’s new CTP designation, they wouldn’t have even been able to consider applying to the program.”

Applications for Fall 2023 are now open and the deadline to apply is Dec. 1. 

For more information about the Opportunity Orange Scholars program, contact  or call 405-744-8298.

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