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The University of Alabama

UA’s RISE Graduation to be Held July 26

NOTE TO MEDIA: Dress rehearsal for the RISE graduation ceremony will be held Thursday, July 26 at 10 a.m. RISE parents, including Emma Collins’ mother, and Martha Cook, RISE director, will be available for interviews during that time.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s RISE Program will hold its annual commencement ceremony Thursday, July 26 at 6 p.m. at the Stallings Center on the UA campus.

The graduating class includes six-year-old Emma Collins, who will walk across the stage to get her diploma in spite of having cerebral palsy and being told she would never walk.

According to Dr. Martha Cook, RISE director, the program has helped prepare more than 10,000 children, both disabled and non-disabled, for public school classes over the past 30 years. In 1999, RISE received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a prestigious recognition achieved by only 7 percent of early childhood programs nationwide.

The RISE program, located in the Stallings Center and named for the family of former UA Head Football Coach Gene Stallings, looks like any other day care center, except provisions have been made to address the children’s specific disabilities. Classrooms, from infant to preschool, have been set up with age-appropriate toys, and each is staffed with a master’s level teacher and their aides.

RISE also serves as a hands-on training facility for UA students majoring in early childhood education, communicative disorders, nursing and social work.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.