Frontline Initiative: DSPs Using the NADSP Code of Ethics

An Interview with Jean Hauff on Lifelong Learning

Jean Hauff, a woman smiling with long brown hair, wearing a pink shirt and navy blue sweater. She is standing outside with bushes in the background.

Jean Hauff, Institute on Community Integration intern

Interviewed by Frontline Initiative editor Chet Tschetter.

Jean was a Communications Intern with the Institute on Community Integrations (ICI) at the University of Minnesota in 2022–2023. She is now a student at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jean can be reached at

We have had the pleasure of working with Jean Hauff during her internship at ICI. We asked her to share her story in the context of the Code of Ethics, since direct support professionals “recognize that each individual has the potential for lifelong learning and growth.” Jean’s story is an excellent example of this.

FI: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I am a 2018 graduate of Orono High School, in Orono, Minnesota. I attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from the fall of 2020 to the spring of 2022. I earned a two-year Compass certificate in multiplatform journalism. The Compass certificate program is an inclusive four-year program at Duquesne University for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I am currently taking a gap year. I work as an intern on a communications team, and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota with my family, which includes my cat, Buster.

I applied to three colleges. Augustana University accepted me. I have decided to go back to college in the fall. I will be a transfer student. I am happy to go back to college.

Jean Hauff’s Duquesne University Compass Certificate with three signatures from University faculty or staff.

Jean’s Compass Certificate from Duquesne University.

FI: When did you know you wanted to go to college and study social media communications?

I knew when I was in high school that I wanted to go to college. Social media has always been something I really enjoy. I did not decide on my area of interest until I took a social media and blogging college class when I was in my transition program. I am on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

FI: What are your career goals?

To work in mass media. I am still exploring different jobs. I really like the graphic design part of social media.

FI: Before you went to Duquesne, you had other internships. Tell us about your work experience.

I have done consulting work at Inclusive Networking. I helped with social media as well as with different training events. I did social media contract work with Thrive Mighty. I had two internships in the summer of 2021. I interned at the Minnesota Disability Law Center. I helped with social media, livestreaming events, and with an Into Adulthood… video about my life. They helped me develop and make a video about my college experience: Into Adulthood with Jean Hauff. I also was a social media intern for the National Down Syndrome Society. I helped design and prepare Facebook posts. I learned a lot about graphic design and different tools used in social media. Last summer, I also had two internships. I worked at St. Paul Neighborhood Network. I was on the production crew for Disability Viewpoints and one other show. I helped with the setup, cameras, and cleanup. My second summer internship was with ICI, which has been extended until I go back to college in the fall of 2023.

FI: What classes did you take at Duquesne University?

I took classes in Media Literacy, Media Design, Public Speaking, Communications, and Research and Information Skills. I also really enjoyed my music class.

FI: What type of support did you have when you were at college and living away from your family in Minnesota?

There were peer mentors who helped me with my homework. I didn’t always have the same peer mentor and that was kind of hard because of communication differences.

I also used Google Calendar. I always kept it up to date with my class schedule and it helps me know when assignments are due. I continue to use it as a tool to help keep me organized. I use it for my internship and personal life schedule.

I also have an Apple watch. There are apps that I use to help me.

I lived in the dorm on campus, and I had a roommate. There was a resident assistant for the floor. The peer mentors did not live in the dorm. That limited the support that I had in the dorm.

Four college students at their student union, posing for a photo. Jean Hauff (front left) is smiling, has dark brown hair with bangs and is wearing a white shirt with a logo on the upper left side of her front. Behind her is Alivia, a woman, smiling with blondish-brown shoulder length hair. Colton is sitting on the back of the gray booth with a gray baseball hat on backward, a black tee-shirt, long blonde hair, and a big smile. Erica, who is sitting by Colton, is smiling and has long brown hair.

Jean enjoying a night out with college friends Alivia, Colton, and Erica at the Duquesne Student Union.

FI: Besides classes, what else did you do at Duquesne?

Hanging out with my new friends was really important to me. One of my good friends from college is Alivia. We met in class, and we are still in touch. I really like doing things with my friends and the social part of college. I joined the ballroom dancing club. It was fun to learn different dances. I also took some yoga classes at the fitness center. I liked having a roommate and really look forward to living somewhere that I will live together with a roommate again. I love shopping with friends.

FI: How often did you connect with your mom when you were at Duquesne?

We would text and talk on FaceTime. We would text often and FaceTime maybe once a week. I only came home for holidays and winter break. I was learning how to navigate the airport and fly independently.

FI: Why didn’t you return to Duquesne, and do you have any other plans for continuing your higher education?

I would have returned to Duquesne, but they no longer provide on-campus housing or support for people with intellectual disability from out of state. For my gap year, I am doing a communications internship at the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota and taking the Partners in Policymaking class. The class started in September and runs through May. I enjoy the class and am learning a lot.

I also did a college search and attended the Student Leadership Conference at Syracuse University. I went to the college fair at the conference. I applied for admission for the Augie Access Program at Augustana University, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They invited me for an interview, and I was offered Fall 2023 admission. I love learning and want to continue my education and college experience. I would like to get a four-year college certificate. I will be studying mass media. The campus is beautiful, and the faculty there seem knowledgeable and approachable. I am looking forward to the challenges and growth that lies ahead.

FI: What do you want DSPs to know about supporting people with disabilities to reach their educational and career goals?

Take some notes. Listen to what we want, and then support us along the way to make it happen. DSPs who use the NADSP Code of Ethics will find that the tenant on self-determination is intended to do just that. I want people to see my abilities. Give me room to make my own decisions. Support my interests and strengths. Give me room to grow and build my confidence.

To hear more from Jean, visit her blog

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