Trailblazer Program

The MMI-UNO Trailblazers Program offers students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in the same learning environments available to same-age peers in an academic-, vocational- and social inclusion-focused program. This two-year program includes auditing a minimum of two (2) undergraduate courses per semester and completion of a specified number of vocational and other experiences. An individual plan for college participation is developed for each student. This is a certificate program that does not offer higher education credits toward a college degree.

Program Admissions Guidelines  

This certificate is for interested and motivated students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities who are:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 25.
  • In their final years of high school (up to three years) or who have completed secondary education.
  • Not able to access college by meeting typical entrance criteria.
  • Able to learn to navigate the college environment with necessary supports and to be unsupervised for a minimum of one hour.
  • Able to arrange transportation to and from campus.
Academic Requirements and Supports  

The Trailblazers Program requires four (4) full semesters of study. Individual planning sessions guide the selection of courses and activities for each semester the student is registered in the certificate. Courses are selected based on student interest for vocational or personal development. The following describes the requirements that will be completed each semester (for four semesters):

  1. Minimum two undergraduate course (determined by student interest). Student will attend, participate, and complete assignments (modified as needed).
    6-7 hours/week – attending class
    3-6 hours/week – tutoring and enrichment
  1. Work experience: Students explore interests and possibilities; job rotations and training.
    2-6 hours/week
  1. Social opportunities: Including meals, physical activity, events, and clubs.
    4-8 hours/week
  1. Individual instruction: Provided by peer mentors and program staff to meet goals as planned for each student.
    1-4 hours/week

Students will work with Trailblazer staff and UNO administration to register for courses each semester to ensure that they are enrolled and will be billed appropriately.

Supports are provided by the program coordinator and peer mentors. Courses will most likely be audited but may be taken for credit if the student is capable of meeting the requirements of the course without modification of its content.  Supports for accessing courses, vocational experiences and other instruction are individually addressed.

Students spend approximately 20 hours per week on campus attending classes, gaining work experience, receiving academic tutoring and life skills instruction and socializing with peers. Students follow the regular fall/spring semester calendar.


Effective fall 2019, the cost of this certificate is $2,500 per semester, which includes the costs associated with auditing classes, including fees, taking part in work-related experiences and community-based social instruction. It does not include the cost of materials needed for classes, meals or other activities that require additional charges. Faculty or staff tuition remission may not be used to pay for this program.


Currently, the Trailblazers Program does not offer an on-campus residential housing program. 

How will I pay for college?  

The Trailblazers Program offers some small scholarships for students based on merit, need and availability. Other resources that you might find helpful can be found at

How can I prepare myself to go to college?  

Tell your family and teachers that you want to be challenged!

Preparation for college is an important aspect of becoming a successful college student. This may mean that you need to advocate for yourself while you are in high school. If your high school teachers and transition coordinators know that you have a goal for college, they can support you by developing an appropriate transition plan.

It is also important to begin developing your independent living skills such as taking care of personal needs, practicing study skills and thinking about your career and personal goals.

Will I get a diploma when I am finished?  

Students enrolled at UNO through the Trailblazers Program will receive a Collegiate Achievement Award upon satisfactory completion of the two-year program.

What happens after I graduate?  

As a Trailblazer Program graduate, you will have a greater opportunity to secure employment in a field meaningful to you.  Program staff can help you secure internships and job opportunities related to your interests.

How do I apply?  

Students who are interested in the Trailblazers Program should request an application by emailing Rachel Ray.

Once we receive this information, the program coordinator will email you the application packet. Complete application packets are received through March 31 for fall admission. The Admissions Committee will review applications and interviews will be scheduled before a final decision is made. Final decisions are announced by June 1.