EDUCATION

Workshop helps teens with cancer transition to college

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Ryan Segovia started high school not in a classroom but in a hospital bed, fighting a disease that threatened to take his life. The now 16-year-old junior from Long Island, New York, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in 2015, and the illness caused him to miss out on the typical teenage experience that most of his peers enjoyed.

“It was pretty hard,” Segovia, who was homeschooled throughout his sophomore year, told FoxNews.com. “It took a while to actually get teachers, and once I finally got all of my teachers having to go every single day to get chemotherapy, I had to cancel a lot of my meetings with the teachers and I cancelled so many for math that my teacher actually quit and I had to get another tutor.”

But now, although he’s still fighting cancer, things are looking up for Segovia, as a program offered at his hospital is helping him regain his footing at school.

The School Intervention & Re-entry Program at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital has begun offering a college planning workshop targeted to teens like Segovia who are diagnosed with pediatric cancers and blood disorders and are looking to transition back into school.

“We are addressing things from college selection and applications like, ‘What kind of a college should I be going to?’ to very specific issues faced by children who have cancer and blood disorders, like, ‘Do I go to a college far from home or do I need to be close to a treating institution?’” Nicole Gutman, coordinator of The School Intervention & Re-entry coordinator at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, told FoxNews.com.

The free workshop, which was funded through a grant from CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and the Long Island Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses, will also feature elements of a traditional college expo with admission representatives from nine colleges present. Gutman said the response for the program’s first expo has been positive, with 150 people expected to attend the session.

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In addition to the speakers, attendees will be provided with resources regarding overview of school intervention services, the role of school personnel in the support of students, medical, psychosocial and education issues, symptoms and effects of treatments that necessitate physical therapy, overview of the need for rehabilitation services and strategies to address physical challenges in these students.

“We think it’s a really unique program that we’re offering,” Gutman said. “There have been other college expos that address children with health care needs, but I’m not sure they have addressed these facets. We’re really proud to be offering such a unique pilot program here.”

Now that Segovia is back with his classmates, he is looking forward to meeting new friends who joined the school while he was out. He also has dreams to pursue his college education in California and will be in attendance Sunday with his mother as a panel of financial planners, admission counselors and a visiting lecturer help answer important questions regarding the application process.

“I’m just trying to learn whatever they’re teaching us,” Segovia said. “I hear a lot of stuff about scholarships, so I want to look into that.”