Director of the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth at KSU receives Fulbright Specialist Program Award for disability services project

Neil Duchac instructing studentsNeil Duchac (Photo by Darnell Wilburn)

Kennesaw State University published the following article by Dave Shelles on its website:

Kennesaw State University’s Neil Duchac, who serves as the director of the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth, will take his expertise in disability services to the other side of the world.

Through a Fulbright Specialist Program Award from the Fulbright Foundation, Duchac will serve as a consultant to The Firefly House, a non-governmental organization that provides rehabilitation counseling services to individuals with disabilities in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, more than 6,700 miles from KSU. Duchac will help the nonprofit set up its disability services center.

“The Firefly House listed their need with the Fulbright Foundation, and as I read about their need, I felt I could go there and make an impact,” said Duchac, also an associate professor of human services. “I hope to encourage people who have disabilities and provide them with some resources that they don’t necessarily have.”

Originally founded to serve visually impaired students at the University of Mongolia, The Firefly House sought counselors with expertise in disability services to establish its services center. That intrigued Duchac, who has studied and taught in disability services for nearly 30 years and arrived at Kennesaw State in 2017 and began leading the Academy in 2018. 

Established in 2009, the Academy at KSU seeks to provide a college experience for developmentally or intellectually disabled individuals, and offers two-year certificates of completion in academic, social and career enrichment that can lead to employment opportunities upon graduation.

“This experience will help round out my skills as both an instructor and a counselor,” said Duchac. “I look forward to representing Kennesaw State at The Firefly House, and to enriching my skills as a counselor inDave Shelles a unique and compelling environment.”

Duchac credited Wellstar College of Health and Human Services Dean Monica Swahn with encouraging him to pursue the opportunity. Swahn said she encourages Wellstar College faculty to seek enrichment both on and off campus, and particularly overseas.

“Neil is so deserving of this Fulbright opportunity,” Swahn said. “His work uplifts others and offers an inclusive vision for both education and counseling. As a Fulbright Scholar myself, I know he’ll make the most of his experience in Mongolia, and he’ll return an even more effective ambassador for KSU and the Academy.”

Duchac will spend two weeks in Mongolia meeting with government officials, University of Mongolia faculty, and with the staff at Firefly House. He said this mission fits with his personal focus and values of helping others.

“I have always considered myself to be a servant of some kind,” he said. “My goal is just to make a difference in the lives of people. Whatever I may provide them always pales in comparison to the experience and emotion that I receive from them.”

—   By Dave Shelles
Photos by Darnell Wilburn