A photo of DeAnna Pursai, co-founder of the College of Adaptive Arts, and her sister Angel

DeAnna Pursai and her sister Angel describe themselves as a package deal. A foundational experience growing up in rural Indiana was when DeAnna went off to college, but Angel was left behind due to her disability. After age 22, adults with disabilities age out of national education programs in the US. This was devastating for Angel, who’s only option was to attend a day program that was more like a nursing home than a college experience. The bullying Angel experienced at this day program caused trauma that still haunts her. DeAnna lived these experiences vicariously through her sister, and made it her mission to provide ongoing education to adults with disabilities.

DeAnna co-founded the College of Adaptive Arts with Dr. Pamela Lindsay, which is now in its 15th year of operation. This college provides an equitable, lifelong college experience to adults of all abilities who historically haven’t had access to college education. CAA offers 1-hour classes in 10 schools of study including visual arts, business, communication, science, technology and more, both online and in-person at their campus in Saratoga, CA. Students need only a desire to learn to earn full credit. While they do graduate and receive a diploma, students are encouraged to re-enroll and keep learning as long as they have interest.

In this episode of the Major Pain podcast we sit down with DeAnna and Angel to learn about the College of Adaptive Arts. Angel shares what it felt like to be left behind when her sister went off to college, and her pride that she has helped create this path to continued education. Angel’s favorite classes are adaptive guitar, computers and clay animation, and she even shares some freestyle rapping. DeAnna discusses the history of CAA, and how Angel has been her inspiration. Her vision for the future is to apply this teaching model as a layer of education at all college campuses, building a global infrastructure of lifelong learning for adults who traditionally haven’t had access.

Learn more about the College of Adaptive Arts or donate to support this program at https://www.collegeofadaptivearts.org/

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