Alumni Create New Possibilities For Special Needs Adults
With academic backgrounds in art, business, philosophy and psychology, the four SMU alumni seemed unlikely to have intersecting career paths. However, Michael Thomas ’06, Megan McCann ’99, Casey Parrott ’08 and Elizabeth Romo ’86 have found a common denominator in My Possibilities.
My Possibilities is a nonprofit educational day program for adults with special needs who have “aged out” and are no longer eligible for special education programs provided by school districts, explains Thomas, executive director of the five-year-old program.
The 11,200-square-foot facility in Plano is the first of its kind in Collin County, he says. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and provides year-round programs for about 140 students each day. Vocational training, independent living skills development and socialization opportunities prepare students for full lives in the community.
For Thomas, McCann and Parrott, the path to My Possibilities started at SMU.
Thomas, who earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from SMU’s Dedman College, worked with Special Olympics through his fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. The volunteer experience helped steer him toward a career in the nonprofit sector. After graduation, he worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and other nonprofits in Texas and Nevada before joining My Possibilities.
McCann, a speech therapist, worked with Best Buddies International while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology at SMU. The volunteer organization promotes friendship with and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
With a degree in studio art from Meadows School of the Arts, Parrott uses his artistic talents to help the students on several levels.
“We’re trying to teach them artistic skills to allow them to express who they are,” he says. “At the same time, it teaches interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and helps develop their motor skills.”
Romo has an even more personal connection to her work. “My husband and I have a 19-year-old child with a cognitive disorder, so that’s what really drew me to this organization,” she says.
She earned a B.B.A. from the Cox School of Business and worked in commercial real estate finance before leaving to raise three children. At the nonprofit, she specializes in resource development, using skills she honed over 17 years of volunteer service with various organizations.With the holidays approaching, the team is gearing up for its third North Texas Great Santa Run December 14 in Plano. In the spirit of the season, participants don Santa suits instead of event T-shirts for the 5K run or 1-mile walk. In addition to the run, there will be family-friendly entertainment, including a magic show by SMU alumnus Trigg Watson ’12.
“It’s more about the fun than the run,” Romo says.
About 4,000 people are expected at the event. All proceeds will benefit My Possibilities.
For Thomas, there’s an extra bit of pride involved when he thinks about sharing the experience with his fellow Mustangs.
“It has been gratifying to welcome more alumni to My Possibilities,” he says. “When a résumé comes across the table, it’s nice to think about extending our SMU family.”
— Sarah Bennett ’11