Advocacy in Annapolis: A Student’s Testimony

By Nick Alexopulos, '03

Jamie Gilmore, ’18, testified at a hearing on funding for the Governor’s Transitioning Youth Initiative before the Maryland House Appropriations Health & Human Resources subcommittee on Feb. 24, 2016. 

In her testimony Gilmore speaks about a friend she met during her service experience for a Loyola writing class and why she feels funding the Transitioning Youth Initiative is important.


My name is Jamie Gilmore. I am a sophomore at Loyola University Maryland and I live on campus in Baltimore City. I am here today to briefly share with you about the impact that the Transitioning Youth funding has. I learned about Transitioning Youth funding and met someone who is proof of how important this part of the state budget is.

Last semester I took a writing class that gave me a very unique opportunity. Our class sponsored a service project that featured an awareness event on campus about developmental disabilities. And I didn’t really know much about developmental disabilities, but I got to meet and hear from people with such disabilities and I was surprised at how smart and funny they were – and how similar they are to so-called “regular” people. I also volunteered for an extra writing project.

Jamie and Damian.

Jamie and Damian. Photo courtesy of Jamie Gilmore.

This project entailed five of my classmates and me eating lunch with five young people with developmental disabilities. They had transitioned from school within the last 1-5 years, so they were all in their early to mid-20s. We ate pizza together and introduced ourselves and chatted. They were easy to be around, kind of excited to be visiting the Loyola campus, and happy-thrilled, actually-to talk to us about their work.

I had a chance then to meet one-on-one with Damian Jackson, who is here with me today. Two years ago, Damian completed the Project SEARCH program sponsored by The Arc Baltimore at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. He interned in several departments at the hospital and when he completed the program, he was hired by the hospital, in their renowned Curtis Hand Center.

Meeting Damian was a privilege. Hearing him talk about his work was an absolute joy. I only spent a little bit of time with Damian, but he inspired me that day, and he became my friend.

Thank you for working to keep the funds to support Transitioning Youth. I hope Damian’s story, and my story, demonstrate the true success that comes from that program.


The Governor’s Transitioning Youth Initiative was designed in 1989 to demonstrate that people with the most severe disabilities can work and contribute to Maryland’s future after leaving school. The initiative earmarks funds in the state Developmental Disabilities Administration’s (DDA) budget for eligible students leaving school, regardless of the severity of their situation and their relative need for immediate services. Funds support employment and other day services for eligible graduating students who otherwise may not have received DDA services. Without the initiative, students leaving the school system would be placed on a lengthy waiting list for adult services. More information is available at

Jamie Gilmore is an elementary education major and special education minor from Point Pleasant, N.J. Her writing class, WR 220: Art of Rhetoric, was taught by Andrea Leary, Ph.D., affiliate professor of writing. Damian’s related testimony is available at

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1 Comment

  • Posted by Lee Bigbee | March 8, 2016

    Thank you Jamie you are a great roll model for your school may more young people have a experience such as yours.

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