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Carolyn H. describes herself as a social butterfly but she admits that starting high school – and then matriculating into Chapel Haven to learn adult independence – were both a little tough because any transition is hard for her.

“My freshman year of high school was harder because I felt invisible,” said Carolyn, whose hometown is Wethersfield, CT. “I had not a lot of friends. I didn’t know what high school was going to be like so to me, I felt invisible. I didn’t know a lot of people there.”

Carolyn is this week’s feature story for Chapel Haven Changes Lives. Carolyn was excited to share her journey from graduating high school to enrolling in Chapel Haven’s REACH program and is no stranger to publicity. She also shared her feelings about Down Syndrome for a campaign by Chapel Haven in honor of October as Down Syndrome Awareness Month. You can view her video here

Carolyn shares that she coped with the transition into high school by signing up for lots of activities. She participated in soccer, track and field, basketball, skiing, and bowling in high school and explains that athleticism was her strong suit. It didn’t take long for her to find her peer group.

“I had a lot of friends in high school,” she stated.

Her life entering Chapel Haven, in 2008, was also a nervous new experience.

“It was something I was excited to learn about,” she says. At first, she felt likes she was back at high school because she didn’t have any friends but that changed fairly quickly. “The first day, after I packed and settled in, everybody wanted me,” she said with a chuckle.

Carolyn has a busy life at Chapel Haven. After going through the REACH program, she graduated and moved into her own apartment within walking distance of the campus. Along with working at Walgreens, she has a boyfriend and is involved in many classes, recreation trips and extracurricular activities at Chapel Haven.

Carolyn, who is passionate about music and singing, knew she could gain confidence and a little more freedom through Chapel Haven. Along with her job at Walgreens, Carolyn enjoys pursuing all her passions.

“I am passionate about any kind of music, I love to sing, and I love to dance.” She explains that she loves shopping and getting her nails done with friends. Playing basketball is also one of her favorite things to do on campus. “I am a girly girl but also a tomboy, I love sports.” Carolyn participates in art classes with Tina at Chapel Haven. “Art is like one of my favorite things to do, my Mom says to me that I am really artistic.”

“The classes are fun, my favorite class is jewelry making. I also enjoy self-defense,” she stated. Being independent, on time for work, and keeping friends is what Chapel Haven has taught her the most. Her vision for her future has changed since being at Chapel Haven. Her goals have gotten bigger. “Being steady with a boyfriend, working towards my dream job as a songwriter are my goals now.”

“All the teachers who have helped me to be independent today is my most memorable moment of Chapel Haven,” she states.

Carolyn enjoys being a Student Ambassador and offering helpful advice to new students. “I tell them to be positive and one day they will go far.”

Her life after Chapel Haven consists of getting married, having a dog, and having a job in the music field. “I did picture myself having this much independence, but I didn’t think it would be a reality, not until I came to Chapel Haven,” she stated. Carolyn was homesick when she first arrived, but she has made a great adjustment. Now, she loves New Haven and all it has to offer. “I do not want to leave, I love Yale, I have friends here and I have a boyfriend.”

Congratulations, Carolyn, and thanks for sharing your story!