Deven Yakes Overcomes Obstacles to Further Education | News, Sports, Jobs

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Photo courtesy of Deven Yakes smiles for the camera. He overcame obstacles to achieve his education.


ALPENA – Alpena’s Deven Yakes is a very special achievement for Alpena Public Schools, Alpena Community College, Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Authority and the Alpena community as a whole.

Yakes was born with cerebral palsy. He worked hard to overcome the physical challenges it gave him as a student. He graduated from APS in the spring of 2020 with a high school diploma, an early college certificate, and earned 44 college credits through the Alpena Early College program.

As an APS student, he was assigned an educational aide by the district to help meet his needs and enable him to attend college. After graduating from Alpena High School, Deven wanted to continue his academic journey towards his career goal in pharmacy, but didn’t know how he could go to school without help to help him. For a time last fall, his grandmother accompanied him to class to help him.

“I’m grateful for her help, but also, having to bring your grandmother for your college experience is not optimal,” Yakes said.

He continued to search for solutions that would help him complete his studies. It was then that he learned about the self-determination offered by the Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Authority. This service delivery model provided him with funds to hire someone to help him achieve his personal and educational goals and exercise his independence.

He has since earned his associate of science degree at Alpena Community College and plans to attend Wright State University, which offers traditional post-secondary programs but also offers a campus dedicated to the needs of students with disabilities.

Yakes has inspired many who have met him along the way and hope to act as an advocate for all people with disabilities.

“People with disabilities may need to approach things differently, but we have the ability to achieve our goals for both career and education, letting people know about this initiative would fill a significant gap for many students with disabilities looking to pursue higher education,” Yakes said. .

For more information about Alpena Early College or Alpena Public School, please contact Lee Fitzpatrick, Director of APS Communications at 989-358-5043 or [email protected]

For more information about ACC Student Support Services, contact Nancy Seguin, ACC Dean of Students, at [email protected]

For more information on the benefits of dual enrollment and early college, contact ACC President Don MacMaster at [email protected]

For more information about the self-determination offered by NEMCMHA, please contact Self-Determination Supervisor Teresa Elowsky at 989-358-7608.

To request services from NEMCMHA, call 989-356-2161 or 800-968-1964 or TTY 711.



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