Zach Schankerman ‘23 knew from the moment he stepped onto the University of Indianapolis campus that this was where he wanted to pursue his degree in finance. While there were many reasons UIndy was the best fit for him, with its small class sizes, student-focused faculty, and proximity to both his home and to the city, the reason that sealed the deal was the BUILD program.
The Baccalaureate for University of Indianapolis Learning Disabled (BUILD) program provides support, accommodations, and resources to UIndy students with learning disabilities who are pursuing associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. Zach learned about the BUILD program during his senior year of high school when he attended a BUILD preview day and met BUILD Director, Betsy Fouts. As Zach transitioned into college life at UIndy, BUILD was there to support him.
“Transitioning to college is really hard, even if you don’t have a learning disability,” said Zach. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support BUILD has given me. They’ve helped me in all areas of my life through professional, social, and personal development. I’m so grateful to the program.”
One of the many ways the BUILD program supports its students is through social skills classes. These classes allow students to come together and interact while participating in a fun life skill.
“In one class, we learned how to sew. Like, who knew that was a social skill, right?” said Zach. “It’s a good life skill. Yeah. So these classes are also about learning things that you can apply to life after graduation too.”
The BUILD community is very strong on campus and grows stronger with every game night, social lunch, and annual BUILD Jeopardy! night.
“I would say the majority of my friend group comes from the BUILD program,” said Zach. “It’s been a really good community for me, and I don’t know where I’d be without it.”
Zach has also found professional development support from the Stephen F. Fry Professional Edge Center, or ProEdge as it’s commonly known. Zach’s career coach, Kirk Bryans, encouraged Zach from day one to prepare for his future.
“From the first day you walk in, your career coach is talking about where you want to go and how we’re gonna get there,” explained Zach. “They help with everything, from preparing your resume to doing mock interviews. It’s constant preparation for success. The ProEdge team is always ready to help you succeed. I’m forever indebted to Kirk for all he’s done for me.”
With Kirk’s encouragement, Zach attended a career fair where he met with UIndy alumni who had moved on to earn positions at Cummins Inc. This connection began a journey that resulted in Zach earning a full-time position as a FP&A Analyst, which he will assume upon his graduation.
While Zach may be graduating, he is absolutely leaving his mark on UIndy through the BUILD program. About two years ago, Zach established a peer mentor program within BUILD, where incoming freshmen are connected with upperclassmen to help ease their transition to college.
“I went to the director of the BUILD program and was like, ‘Hey, you know, I know when I was a freshman I didn’t talk to a lot of the upperclassmen, so what is a way that we can have some peer mentoring?’” recalled Zach. “So two summers ago when we first started this, it was a few of us upperclassmen, and we got in a group chat with all of the incoming BUILD students, and we were just there, available to answer any questions they had about classes and to introduce them to people. It feels really good to help people. It feels like a way that I’m giving back to BUILD.”