A special education student from Noxapater has been accepted to Mississippi State University.

Clay Kugle filled out paperwork today to enroll in the MSU Access program.

The MSU ACCESS program is designed to give students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (ID/DD) a full college experience.

From the program website: “MSU ACCESS is a 4-year, residential post-secondary college program dedicated to ensuring students with ID/DD receive a quality postsecondary education through inclusive experiences in academics, socialization, career development, and independent living. ACCESS students have a goal of becoming gainfully employed and living as independently as possible in their communities. Upon completion of ACCESS, students will graduate with a Mississippi State University Certification of Completion with an Area of Focus.

Beth Sanders, Kugle’s special education teacher at Noxapter Attendance Center, said Kugle had no college plans before learning of the program.

“Coming into his senior year of school, he and his family had not been finalizing plans or completing college applications,” said Sanders. “There were no discussions of trade school or post-secondary education.”

That all changed when TJ Bobak, a graduate assistant from Mississippi State, began coming to speak to the class.

“I started working with Clay and realized he had a lot of potential and the ability to be at ACCESS” said Bobak. “He fits our student profile…and so he started the independent process of becoming a college student.”

That process was finalized Tuesday afternoon.

Kugle’s teachers, friends, and supporters surprised him with a National Signing Day type ceremony.

He signed his paperwork, put on his official MSU hat, and even rang a cowbell.

When asked what he plans to do at Mississippi State, Kugle told Kicks 96 that he wants to studying coaching, learn how to be on his own, and to make new friends.

For more information about the Mississippi State ACCESS program, visit www.access.msstate.edu.

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