College Degree Is Cause For Extra Celebration

ELIZABETH—When Thomas Frazier graduated from Rowan University’s College of Communications in December, there was cause for a little more celebration than usual.

Frazier is the first member of Community Access Unlimited to graduate from a four-year college program in the agency’s 30-year history. CAU helps people with special needs to gain real lives in the community by providing support and services.

“When Thomas accepted his diploma at the Rowan University graduation ceremony last month, Community Access Unlimited graduated with him,” said Sidney Blanchard, CAU executive director. “In becoming the first CAU member to graduate from a four-year program since our inception in 1979, Thomas not only marked a wonderful personal achievement but also reflected the merits of the CAU program as a whole and all we have accomplished in our 30 years. His achievement is also ours.”

Frazier has been a member of Community Access for nearly six years.  After entering CAU’s Group Home, he progressed to a Supervised Transitional Living Home and then to the Semi-Independent level. He now resides in a supported housing apartment.

In each stage of the Transitional Opportunities Program, Frazier developed the skill training necessary to move on to the next level, he maintains.

“Each level had a different set of rules, different people, a different environment, I had to get used to all of it,” Frazier said before graduation.  “TOP gave me the freedom that most kids don’t have.  Most kids have parents making decisions for them.  I had a chance to make decisions for myself.  If I made the wrong decisions, I had a chance to learn from them.

“That had the biggest effect on me because it taught me to be adaptive.  If you don’t change, you don’t grow.  I apply that to everything I do.”

Frazier works as a front desk agent at an extended stay hotel in Elizabeth while also working the job market and preparing for the next stage of his life.  He hopes for a career in the entertainment industry, perhaps managing artists, and has already lined up two interviews in the sports and entertainment field.


Thomas Frazier, a recent graduate of Rowan University, is the first member of Community Access Unlimited to graduate from a four-year college or institution in the non-profit’s 30-year history. Photo courtesy of Community Access Unlimited

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