Mom captures sweet moment as son with Down syndrome opens college acceptance letter
Posted September 8, 2016
ATLANTA — One of the University of Georgia’s biggest fans will be joining its ranks next January, and the heartwarming video of the incoming student reading his acceptance letter is winning over the hearts of thousands.
Twenty-one-year-old Jordan Huffman, who has Down syndrome, has dreamed about becoming a UGA Bulldog since he moved to the Atlanta area as a young boy. But his family wondered if he’d ever get to see his dream become a reality, since the school failed to offer a program for kids like him, Today reported.
Huffman — who never misses a Bulldog basketball or football game — refused to give up hope that someday he’d be able to call the campus his own.
“He was just dead set that this was the school he wanted to go to,” his mother, Kathryn Junod, told Today. “Once he gets onto something and puts his mind on it, he is dead set.”
Huffman was over the moon when he learned that the school would be launching Destination Dawgs — a program that aims to allow students with intellectual or developmental disabilities to experience UGA to its fullest.
As part of the new program, students get to live on campus and attend classes with the help of peer mentors, according to a UGA press release. The university announced it would accept five applicants to the program, beginning in January of next year.
Huffman immediately applied to the program — something that was a big nerve wracking to his mother.
“I explained to him that it is highly competitive,” Junod told Today.
But Huffman’s dedication to his goal ended up paying off when he finally received the envelope he’d been hoping for. Junod decided to surprise him with the letter as he was playing on his drumset, and lucky for us, she had the camera rolling.
“Congratulations. You’ve been accepted,” an elated Huffman reads, yelling and cheering with excitement. Junod shared the touching video with several local news outlets, and soon thousands of strangers rejoiced along with them.
“I am so happy for him,” she told Today. “I always told him that if you work really hard and you try and do your best, your dreams can happen.”
Huffman was able to attend a prospective student weekend at UGA, an experience that deepened his resolve to call himself a Bulldog.
“That weekend kind of helped me get over the anxiety,” Junod said. “Just seeing how he was and how happy he was when I went to pick him up … that made me feel a lot better.”
The university developed the Destination Dawgs program to help participants gain skills that can improve their odds of finding a rewarding job and living a productive, independent adult life.
“I think programs like this are important not just for the potential financial benefits to the graduate or the social benefits gained, but it also raises parental expectations for what the adults life of their child with a disability may look like,” said Carol Britton Laws, coordinator of UGA’s Disability Studies Certificate program, in a university release.
Huffman hopes to one day own a sports bar. He’ll start his journey as a full-fledged Dawg in the new year.
Jessica Ivins is a content manager for KSL.com and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.