Reflecting our tagline “Life is a journey. Be prepared for the trip”, our program’s goal is for Destination Dawgs graduates to have gained new knowledge, skills, and competencies which lead to a rewarding adult life. This includes attaining a desired job, having an increased ability to live independently, and building relationships that expand their social networks.

Program Breakdown

WHO:  Students with intellectual disabilities between the ages of 18 -25 who have a personal desire - and support from family- to gain skills for self-determination, independent living, and career development at the University of Georgia.

WHAT: Completion of the program will result in a UGA Certificate in College and Career Readiness from the UGA Center on Continuing Education bearing +/- 150 continuing education units. Student competency and accomplishments will be recorded in an electronic portfolio.

WHEN:  Five (15 week) semesters starting in the Spring (January) semester following a prerequisite Summer Leadership Institute for invited applicants. Semesters follow the UGA academic calendar. 

HOW: The Destination Dawgs team will utilize the Students Transitioning to Adult Roles (STAR) Person-Centered Planning (PCP) model to facilitate goal setting and to track progress across five domains: Career Development and Employment, Academic Enrichment, Campus & Community Engagement, Independent Living, and Self-Determination. Each semester students will engage in four program domains:

  1. Academic Courses 
    • Students will be included  in foundational courses offered through the Division of Academic Enhancement (UNIV courses) to increase the student's capacity for college success, in Directed Study courses (IHDD 3010) for individualized support, and in courses offered by UGA that align with the individual student's vision and career goals. Students will attend UGA courses with permission of department /instructor and satisfactory academic progress will be assessed each semester.
  2. Work-based Experiential Learning  
    • A minimum of three semesters of work-based experiential learning related to the student’s career goal is required. These experiences can be paid or unpaid and may include employment-focused learning opportunities both on and off campus. Time spent in work-based experiential learning settings will increase over the course of the third, fourth, and fifth semesters.
  3. Social and Extracurricular Activities 
    • Our goal is for the experiences of our students to be comparable to those of other undergraduates at UGA. All students will have a UGA student ID and access to auxiliary services. With the support of peer mentors, students will identify extracurricular activities he or she is interested in pursuing; determine how to balance social and academic life; and foster friendships.
  4. Independent Living Skill Building 
    • Students may participate in campus service activities, health and wellness seminars, workshops, and counseling. Students will also eat lunch each day with peer mentors, learn to navigate the UGA bus system, and may opt to live in on (if available) or off campus housing. 

Destination Dawgs Support Fund

The Destination Dawgs program meets national best practices for high quality, fully inclusive, competency based postsecondary transition programs for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  The Destination Dawgs support fund provides vital financial support to our program and our students. Your support is very much appreciated!

Contribute to Destination Dawgs


Want to learn more about Destination Dawgs? Join us at our Fall information session on October 23rd (rescheduled from October 9th) - Sep 6, 2018

Destination Dawgs has received our certification from the Department of Education as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) for youth with IDD. This status will allow our students to access federal financial aid.

UGA Office of Institutional Diversity newsletter - Fall 2017

Our story in Making a Difference - Summer 2017

Destination Dawgs participant to be on Times Square billboard - August 29, 2017

Destination Dawgs: Education program for students with disabilities at UGA finds success in first semester - April 12, 2017

Team UGA awarded Destination Dawgs the Unselfish Giving Attitude Award (video below) - Nov 12, 2016

Mother of Lambert grad with Downs syndrome records son reading UGA acceptance letter - Sep 13, 2016

When to Apply

The application period for our next cohort (to begin in January 2020) will be from mid-March through May 2019. Please email for further information.

The application listed on this website is for reference only, and is not updated.

Admission Criteria

Must be:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 25 in the year of admission.
  • Not under a full or plenary guardianship as ordered by a court of law. Limited or partial guardianship agreements will be considered and must be shared.
  • Able to remain unsupervised for 12 hours
  • Independent in handling his/her own medication, specialized dietary and/or medical needs, as well as in the use of his/her own medication. Staff is not available to manage/administer medications. The Destination Dawgs Program does not take responsibility for specialized diets or medical needs
  • Able to sit through a class period (1.5 hours)
  • Able to read and write approximately at a 3rd grade level
  • A United States Citizen
  • Willing to consent to being photographed and be able to consent to participate in research

Must have:

  • A personal desire - and support from family- to gain skills for self-determination, independent living, and career development at the University of Georgia
  • A primary diagnosis of intellectual disability. An intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18. The applicant must have been (or is presently) eligible for special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Completed high school with diploma/modified diploma/certificate of completion
  • NO history of challenging behaviors
  • Sufficient emotional and independent living skills necessary to participate in coursework and campus life    
  • Student must be able to be legally responsible for understanding and adhering to the UGA Code of Conduct:
  • Transportation to and from campus
  • Medical insurance
  • A cell phone
  • Willingness to participate in a mandatory, invite- based prerequisite Summer Leadership Institute


Spring 2018 (expenses per semester)

(Tuition and fees model the current UGA structure for the applicable term and are subject to change.)

  • Academic Tuition: $4776 (in state) for 6 or more course credit hours
  • UGA Student Fees: $ 1133 (required for My ID and access to auxiliary student services)
  • Program Fee: $1970 (administrative expenses)

Tuition and fees for course attendance are the same as those for students registered for credit and are based on a 9-month academic year (spring/fall) for an average undergraduate student.

Tuition and costs for attending UGA

Meal plans are optional.

Costs do not include books, materials, or other course required expenses.

Students who drive may wish to secure a parking permit for an additional fee. Destination Dawgs does not provide or coordinate transportation. 

Costs do not include housing. Off campus apartments are available and staff can assist families in identifying private housing options and support providing organizations if desired.

On-campus Housing for Destination Dawgs students is available on a year to year basis, depending on space availability in Residence Halls. On-campus housing is not an option for first semester Destination Dawgs students, nor is it guaranteed. Students who desire to live in on campus will complete a separate application and will be subject to UGA housing rates

Meet the Students (2017 Cohort)

Justin Mejias

Justin graduated with honors from East Jackson Comprehensive High School where he ran track. He wants to help people with disabilities as a recreation or physical therapist. He is a certified volunteer with Jackson County Special Olympics and serves on the Jackson County Federal Stakeholders Committee as a county member representative. He likes playing games, especially connect four, meeting new people and making new friends. In his spare time he plays guitar and practices piano. He describes himself as dependable, considerate, and willing to work hard.

Justin Mejias

Christopher Garrison

Chris is a graduate of North Oconee High School where he swam, was a basketball and football cheerleader, a football mascot, and was awarded the senior superlative “Most School Spirit” by the NOSHS student body. He wants to work in a public setting, like a library, where he can be social and get to know people. He loves to draw and paint, listen to music, and to spend time with friends. He loves to eat out. Chris says he wants to go to UGA like his sister and buddies. He likes to learn and likes school and homework.

Christopher Garrison

Robert “Jordan” Huffman III

Jordan is a recent graduate of Lambert High School where he was on the homecoming court, and a model in the DECA prom fashion show. He was the manager of the boys’ basketball team and a member of Young Life, Drama Club and Special Olympics. He wants to work in sports marketing or in a retail store. He plays flag football and basketball, likes to go to the gym, to go to movies, eat out, and hang out with friends watching sports and listening to music. Jordan says he has dreamed of going to UGA since middle school and loves school and being busy. He also loves to act and sing.

Robert Jordan Huffman III

Katie Merritt

Katie is a graduate of North Oconee High School where she was a member of the Hero Club, and was student of the year. She would like to work with animals and to take classes that would prepare her for a job in the veterinary field. She has a pet hamster and enjoys spending time on the phone and playing games. Katie describes herself as a very kind, sweet, intelligent, friendly and social person.

Katie Merritt

Britta Clark

Britta is a graduate of Braselton Christian Academy where she was in chorus and on the yearbook staff. She would like to work with children, animals, or to be a teacher. In her spare time she likes to play basketball, run and hike, to hang out with her friends, dance, and play with her cat. She enjoys American History. She wants to come to UGA to learn more, to get a good job, to get married (someday), to meet new people, make new friends, and to cheer for the Dawgs at football games.

Britta Clark

Meet the Students (2018 Cohort)

Abby Amatriain

Abby is a recent graduate of Loganville High School where she was involved with Partners for Success, cheerleading, and Special Olympics teams. She was also chosen for the Spirit of Special Olympics Award in April 2017. Abby loves working with children, and hopes to work in a school or childcare setting in the future. She enjoys music and art, using social media, playing with her dogs, and hanging out with her friends. Abby is excited to be attending UGA like her sisters. She also describes herself as a huge football fan, and she enjoys going to UGA football games.

Abby Amatriain

Malerie Moulder

Malerie is a graduate of Mountain View High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia where she was involved with cheerleading and Special Olympics. Malerie hopes to either work with her parents in their real estate business, or open up her own cleaning business in the future. Malerie is glad to be attending UGA like her mother. She enjoys cheerleading, listening to music, going shopping, talking to people on her cell phone, and hanging out at her lake house.

Malerie Moulder

Meet the Staff

Anna Lawrence: Program Coordinator

Anna Lawrence is a native Georgian and a graduate of the University of Georgia (COE '10). Along with 3 years experience as a researcher for The National Treatment Center Study (Owens Institute for Behavioral Research), Anna studied Special Education and has honed her programming skills as the Coordinator of Administration and Family Support at Extra Special People, Inc. She is overjoyed to combine her UGA pride and passion for inclusion to welcome a new kind of Bulldog to campus. Go (Destination) Dawgs!


Lisa Ulmer: Academic Instructor

Lisa Ulmer joins Destination Dawgs team as the Academic Instructor through a partnership with Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. Lisa earned her PhD from UGA in Special Education in 2008 and received her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from Florida State University. Lisa has worked in special education for the past thirteen years and has taught students with intellectual disabilities in a community based vocational setting as well as in an inclusive classroom setting. She most recently served as a Department Head for Special Education in Oconee County. She is a member of the NEGATT RESA Transition Consortia and the GA Council for Exceptional Children among others.


Carol Britton Laws: Program Director

Carol Britton Laws is an Assistant Clinical Professor in Disability Studies at the Institute on Human Development and Disability / UCEDD at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences where she instructs in, and coordinates, UGA’s Disability Studies Certificate program. She is the Director of the Destination Dawgs program and has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 15 years. Carol earned her PhD from UGA in Social Work in 2012. She received her Master’s degree in nonprofit and public administration from Rutgers School of Social work and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers College. She is a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and serves on multiple university, state, and national committees.


Lori Tiller: Summer Leadership Program Coordinator

Lori Tiller is a public service faculty member at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia, with a focus on leadership development for underrepresented populations. Lori co-directed the feasibility study that led to the creation and implementation of the Destination Dawgs Inclusive Post-Secondary Program at UGA and coordinates the Destination Dawgs Summer Leadership Institute. Lori earned her master’s degree in nonprofit management from the University of Georgia’s Nonprofit Institute in 2007 and her bachelor’s degree in music education from UGA in 2001. She is a current part-time Ph.D. student at the Institute of Higher Education at UGA.


Peer Mentoring

A Destination Dawgs peer mentor will be a currently enrolled University of Georgia student who volunteers and agrees to appropriately support the Destination Dawg student(s) with whom they are matched with in one or more of these three areas:

  • Academic (one-on-one and in class support, library navigation, study partners, etc.)
  • Health and Wellness (dining companions, cooking skills, exercise buddy, etc.)
  • Social (student club/organization events, social activities, sporting events, community service projects, etc.)
  • NEW for Fall 18:  Independent Living (housekeeping, meal preparation, financial management, etc.)

group photo with destination dawgs

What is the time commitment of a peer mentor?

Approximately 3 hours of peer mentorship per week over the course of the semester, mandatory pre-service training, completion of feedback forms, voluntary participation in research,  ongoing meetings, and participation in relevant workshops when possible.

Peer Mentors can earn course credit hours!

3 course credit hours may be earned each semester by peer mentors enrolled in IHDD 2050S: Principles of Person-Centered Practices (pre-req: IHDD 2001). Course content is on eLC and this course will count toward a UGA Certificate in Disability Studies. See the syllabus for more information on this service-learning course. 

What does a peer mentor do?

The experience of a peer mentor is varied! Below are examples of how a qualified peer mentor might interact with a Destination Dawgs student:

  • Travel training experience with students (riding the bus, navigating campus)
  • Note-taking and Academic Tutor when needed
  • Assist with organization of everyday logistics – The UGA Mobile App, LiveSafe app, etc.
  • Help with time management/weekly schedule (Calendar)
  • Encourage healthy eating choices and work on money handling skills and working within a set budget.
  • Help with understanding the social environment, pertinent social skills, conversational boundaries, etc.
  • Relay all communication about student progress and in-class specifics to Program Coordinator and Academic Instructor
  • Attend regular meetings with Program Coordinator and fellow mentors
  • Coverage of other Destination Dawgs peer mentors in the event of an absence
  • Attend an athletic event with and in support of a Destination Dawgs student
  • Other duties as specified

Peer Mentor applications are accepted on rolling admission. Please note that if you do not apply within the set deadlines, you may have to wait until the following semester to begin your service as a mentor. Contact with questions.

Apply Submit Peer Mentor Profile