University Park, IL,
15:53 PM

Jaguar Jumps: Post High School Advancement for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Jaguar Jumps

On November 4, 2022, Faculty Emeritus Roberta O’Shea, Ph.D. and Michelle Sebasco, Director of Academic Partnerships and Continuing Education at Governors State University’s (GSU) School of Extended Learning (SXL),  along with three current Jaguar Jumps (JJ) students, presented at the Illinois Transition Conference in Peoria, IL on the success of the JJ program.

Jaguar Jumps is offered at Governors State University for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and serves students aged 17 and over at various stages in their lives who are seeking options and opportunities for continuing their education after high school and/or gaining employment and independent living. It is one of the few programs of its kind in the Southland region.

The good intentions of the Jaguar Jumps program translated into good works at GSU and grew from a community-based program that focused on health, movement, and social opportunities for these students into successful academic pathways to degree programs or workforce development opportunities.  

Students Anthony Beese, who served as a volunteer for GSU’s Center for Performing Arts this past season, Ben Penachio and Mary Kate Del Canton shared their experiences as Jaguar Jumps students with conference attendees. 

Success stories were also shared. Ben Penachio, who presented at the conference, has  matriculated from Jaguar Jumps to the College of DuPage’s Criminal Justice Program with intentions of transferring to GSU to continue his Criminal Justice studies. O’Shea and Sebasco also shared Jaguar Jumps student Elijah Gomez’ story at the conference. Gomez successfully matriculated from SXL’s Jaguar Jumps program into GSU’s Bachelor of Communication program. He has completed an SXL Podcasting class and can be found at the university’s Basketball games as the very first roving reporter, interviewing spectators courtside.  In addition to the success of Gomez and others, Daniel Pop is another JJ alum doing great things! Pop matriculated from the Jaguar Jumps program to Elmhurst College in the Fall of 2021. He also created a video about his experiences post high school.  

Outcomes of the 10-Week Jaguar Jumps Program

Options and opportunities offered for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities wanting to gain independence through continuing their education and/or gaining employment: 

Program Deliverables


  • Student ID's are issued
  • Jaguar Jump students have access to all university resources and services
  • Unpaid internship experiences on campus are available


  • Jaguar Jumps was created within an existing university system
  • Ten weeks - Classes are 90 minutes per week
  • Includes instructor(s) with disabilities
  • Collaboration across university departments and community resources

Jaguar Jumps also provides an opportunity for students to create a peer-based community around shared goals and lived experiences. Here are the links to register for the spring JJ sessions:

For more information, contact Michelle Sebasco, Director of Academic Partnerships & Continuing Education at

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