Auburn University has its first female student with Down syndrome

Auburn University has its first female student with Down syndrome
(Source: WTVM)

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - A love of Auburn runs in Anna Moates’ blood. Her grandfather, father, and two older sisters all attended Auburn.

“Having a family that went to Auburn made a great impact on me, especially since my older sister was elected Miss Auburn last year," Moates said.

She dreamed of going here, but as a young woman with Down syndrome, she didn’t know if it would ever happen. Now an Auburn University program offers students a special opportunity to have a real, on-campus college experience.

“I was home schooled my whole life since the 6th grade, and now I finally have the chance to go to Auburn University,” Moates said.

The EAGLES program, which stands for Education to Accomplish Growth in Life Experiences for Success, is a two-year transition program, and it’s finishing up its first year on Auburn University’s campus.

Though it is a non-degree program, students who go through it receive a college and career readiness certificate.

The goal for EAGLES program graduates is to be able to find a full-time job and live as independently as possible after they finish four semesters in the program.

Moates is part of the inaugural class, and she is Auburn University’s first female student with Down syndrome. But, she’s a lot like every other student at Auburn.

She lives in a dorm on campus, cheers on the Tigers at sporting events, rolls Toomer’s Corner after big wins, and even takes two credit-bearing Auburn classes each semester.

Right now, she’s in yoga and public speaking.

“She always attends her classes,”said Betty Patten, Ph.D, the director of the EAGLES program. “Anna is a remarkable individual. She is more involved on campus than a lot of other students.

Moates is a member of the Diamond Dolls, an organization that helps out with the Auburn baseball team, the Auburn University Singers, and the United Sound Band, where she plays the baritone.

On top of her classes and extra-curricular activities, she also has additional EAGLES courses and works with peer mentors.

“Anna is full of life," said peer mentor Jessie Stevens. “She’s also very sassy which I love. She always makes me laugh, and she’s not afraid to tell you what she thinks, which I think is great.”

What does being an Auburn University student mean to Moates?

“It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, and I’m just excited to be here,” Moates said.

The EAGLES program recently raised over $75,000 through personal donations and from the “You Might Be For Auburn” Foundation that gave $25,000. This money goes to to help students pay for the program.

It costs over $20,000 per semester for each of these students, so the EAGLES program is accepting donations.

You can donate to the program here.

Applications just closed for the newest group of EAGLES students for next year.

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