Lifelong Learning with Friends

Welcome to

Lifelong Learning with Friends

A postsecondary education program aimed at adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

It is our pleasure to introduce Lifelong Learning with Friends, the newest iteration of what was previously known as Informal Classes for Adults with IDD at the University of Texas at Austin.

Lifelong Learning with Friends will provide the same excellence that students and families have come to expect and shares its predecessor’s mission: to provide adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities access to stimulating, diverse and fun post-secondary opportunities. Reverse inclusion is still at the program’s core – meaning – that neurotypical college-age students will learn and have fun alongside their neurodiverse peers. This unique opportunity to make long-term friends with students near and far is an exciting one! In addition to widening access to courses, Lifelong Learning With Friends will be expanding the number of courses offered each semester by over double what was previously available through the University of Texas, guaranteeing there’s a course (or three!) to fit every student’s area of interest.

See the university’s health behavior guidance for the most current information on who should mask and when. LLWF is now offering a mix of virtual and in-person classes this summer. Students are encouraged but not required to wear masks during class.  Please check Protect Texas website for up-to-date information regarding staying safe during the covid pandemic.

The skills obtained through the Lifelong Learning with Friends courses represent building blocks for future higher education and employment opportunities. Social skills and professionalism are built into the curriculum and expectations of every class regardless of subject matter. These attributes are crucial to acquiring and maintaining a job. Students will learn how to follow multi-step directions, be accountable for their work, take direction, self-advocate and how to express themselves in a professional manner. The ability to communicate with a variety of people is an essential tool for employability across fields. LLWF gives students the opportunity to hone and practice these skills that they will carry with them long after the course concludes. 

Watch the video to learn more about Lifelong Learning With Friends

Summer 2022 Schedule: Classes, Instructors, Dates, and Times
(Central Standard Time)

Course TitleInstructorEnrollmentClass FeeDayDatesTimes
(Online) Soundtracks of Nintendo and BeyondJulian Falco13$125Mondays5/16/22-6/20/226:00-8:00 p.m. CST
(Online) Hollywood History: Apollo 13 and the Sound of MusicLori Duran13$125Tuesdays5/17/22-6/21/226:00-8:00 p.m. CST
(In-Person) The Wonders of Space: Our Solar System!Lisa Sigafoos13$125Wednesdays5/18/22-6/22/226:00-8:00 p.m. CST
(In-Person) Convenience CookingKaelin Rubenzer and Susan Rozmiarek13$125Thursdays5/19/22-6/23/226:00-8:00 p.m. CST
(Online) Adventures Across Latin AmericaLorena Casares13$125Sundays5/22/22-6/26/222:00-4:00 p.m. CST
(Online) Your Well Being in 2022Emily Yisa13$125Tuesdays7/19/22-8/23/226:00-8:00 p.m. CST
(Online) Digital Photography for AllNorys Rodriguez13$125Wednesdays7/13/22-8/17/226:00-8:00 p.m. CST
(Online) Planning Your Perfect Summer Vacation: Global Tourism AdventureAlicia Chen13$125Thursdays7/14/22-8/18/226:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST
(Online) Sing, Sing, Sing: Song and Vocal PerformanceEena Lin13$125Sundays7/17/22-8/21/222:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST
Occasional absences due to vacation and illness are accepted.

Contact Us

Please do not hesitate to reach out to with any questions and concerns, and one of our team leaders will be in touch with you.

Be sure to watch our Program Director, Lucy Gross, discuss the program on our orientation video (scroll up this page to watch the video).

Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for elevated and continual learning for all with us! We are excited to meet all of you soon!

Individuals with Down syndrome may apply for a $1,000 scholarship with Ruby’s Rainbow to take LLWF courses!
Click here to apply.

Summer 2022 Classes

All Classes are
Central Standard Time

(Online) Soundtracks of Nintendo and Beyond, Taught by Julian Falco
Mondays 5/16/22 to 6/20/22, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST

Have you ever been so absorbed in a video game that going back to reality is almost jarring? What would this experience be like if the game was silent? The music in video games is instrumental in creating an immersive experience; it can create vibrant scenes, characters, and emotions, giving you another way to understand the world inside your screen. Join us as we explore the wonders of the original soundtrack! From iconic music in Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda, to ambient music in Pokémon and Minecraft, students will learn about the history of video game music, how video game music is created, and how different styles and cultures of music influence the gaming experience.
Click Here to Enroll

(Online) Hollywood and History: Apollo 13 and the Sound of Music
Taught by Lori Duran

Tuesdays 5/17/22 to 6/21/22, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST
Do you enjoy history and movies? Then join us in our series of Fun with Hollywood and History courses where we will study two popular movies that are based on true stories. This semester we focus on Apollo 13 and The Sound of Music. We will discuss how accurately these films represent actual historical incidents. For each class we will watch sections of the movies and afterwards examine and discuss what really happened. We will also take a photo tour of the true stories that these movies are based on. Our goal is to be informative and fun. Students are encouraged to enjoy popcorn, or another snack of their choosing, to munch during our cinematic class.
Click Here to Enroll

(In-Person) The Wonders of Space: Our Solar System!, Taught by Lisa Sigafoos
Wednesdays 5/18/22 to 6/22/22, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST
Are you curious about what exists beyond Earth’s atmosphere? Have you ever wondered about our planetary system? Come on a journey with me through space to the outer spiral of the Milky Way galaxy. Become an astronomer who takes an in-depth look into the planets that comprise our planetary system, the Solar System. We will have astronomers and engineers present from Mcdonald’s Observatory and NASA to share their discoveries. Through engaging in-person, hands-on activities and lessons (including experiments, videos, real models, and more), students will learn about the Earth and our surrounding planets. Students will also create a final presentation- a planetary discovery to showcase in our final class!
Click Here to Enroll

(In-Person) Convenience Cooking, Taught by Kaelin Rubenzer and Susan Rozmiarek
Thursdays 5/19/22 to 6/23/22, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST

Want to learn how to make yummy and easy snacks or meals by yourself? Are you wanting to bring new life to your toaster, air fryer, blender, and more?  Never had a salad or vegetable you loved? Let’s change that! Make the most of your pantry staples and kitchen gadgets in our new in-person course: Convenience Cooking! Students will learn to make quick and delicious snacks, operate common kitchen tools independently, and make smarter eating choices. Convenience Cooking will encourage students to roll up their sleeves and try their hand at making healthier versions of the snacks they already know and love at home, like pizza, fries, buffalo wings, and more. Students will also practice basic math and writing skills as we build a collaborative class cookbook to use and inspire long after the class ends.  Are you gluten or dairy-free? No problem! Accommodating substitutions will be included.  Students will need to bring an additional $25 to cover the cost of appliances and ingredients for the course. Come hungry! 
Click Here to Enroll

(Online) Adventures Across Latin America, Taught by Lorena Casares
Sundays 5/22/22 to 6/26/22, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST

Hola! Do you have friends or family in Latin America? Or maybe you love learning about the different foods and cultures of Hispanic countries? Join us for a virtual escapade  through six different Latin American countries and learn about the different histories, celebrations, and foods they have to offer. We will be traveling all the way from our southern neighbors in Mexico, to the beachy coasts of Puerto Rico, and even to the great Andes Mountains of Peru. Come learn about the many similarities and differences between Latin American countries, and pick up some Spanish and other cultural insiders from foreign guest speakers along the way!
Click Here to Enroll

(Online) My Well Being in 2022, Taught by Emily Yisa
Tuesdays 7/19/22 to 8/23/22, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST
Do you ever feel nervous about your physical health, for example maybe fearing getting sick? Do you sometimes have negative thoughts that won’t go away? Has it been hard to keep up with your friends because of COVID? A lot has happened since the pandemic started in 2020, and maybe your overall well-being has suffered some as a result. In this class we will learn about three of the many types of well being: physical well-being, emotional well-being, and social well-being. We will learn about each type of well-being and what can impact them. We will discuss and practice different activities we can begin incorporating into our lives to promote our well-being: exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, social connections, and more. Expect to leave this class with a better understanding of well being and tools to boost your overall wellness! 
Please note: This class begins one week after other second session courses.
Click Here to Enroll

(Online) Digital Photography for All, Taught by Norys Rodriguez
Wednesdays, 7/13/22 to 8/17/22, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST
Digital photography 101 is meant to help you master your digital camera, iPad, or even your cell phone camera! We will learn the basic functions of your digital camera, so you can begin capturing higher-quality images of the people, places, and objects around you. You will be tasked in completing a series of photo projects that will help you practice the skills you are learning throughout the course. Your teacher will work beside you, reviewing your photos and helping you improve your skills as an independent photographer. By the time you finish, you will have the knowledge, eye, and know-how to take photographs like a pro!
Click Here to Enroll

(Online) Planning Your Perfect Summer Vacation: Global Tourism Adventure!
Taught by Alicia Chen

Thursdays 7/14/22 to 8/18/22, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST

Do you love daydreaming about your next vacation? Do you love learning about the history, food, and best attractions from different places around the world, like the Colosseum and Great Wall of China? Our new class, Global Tourism Adventure, sounds right up your alley! We will become virtual tourists in some of the most popular and exciting places in the world, like Paris, Dubai, Rome, and more. Students will also learn about the essentials needed to travel, such as what to pack, currency, important cultural differences, and how to plan their vacations. Come join us on our adventure around the world!
Click Here to Enroll

(Online) Sing, Sing, Sing: Song and Vocal Performance, Taught by Eena Lin
Sundays, 7/17/22 to 8/21/22, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST

Calling all singers and music lovers! This class will dive into the world of vocal performance and its rich diversity in genres, singing styles, and voice types. Students will listen and learn from popular music artists, TV shows, and iconic movies like Glee, The Beatles, Pitch Perfect, Ariana Grande, and more. Students will also have the opportunity to test out their new musical knowledge and skills by practicing different musical styles together, like beatboxing and acapella. This interactive and fun class will provide a safe and welcoming space to build confidence as singers and performers, beginners and experts alike!
Click Here to Enroll

Love our program? Get your own LLWF T-shirt, or sweatshirt (NEW!) shipped directly to you!

When you register for a course there will be an optional add-on $30 charge for a LLWF T-shirt, or $45 for a LLWF sweatshirt/hoodie (shipping included). After ordering, expect an email from our main LLWF email account to confirm your shipping address and T-shirt and/or sweatshirt order details.

Summer 2022 Instructors

Julian Falco is in his fourth year at UT Austin majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Social Work. He has been volunteering for LLWF (formally UT Informal Classes for Adults with IDDs) since 2019 and has enjoyed interacting with the students while learning about diverse topics like classical art, the history of Austin, and Harry Potter. He recently taught a class on movie music, and loves sharing his passion for music and soundtracks with others! He enjoys playing flute and piano, composing, and listening to music — his favorite genre is indie/alternative, but he’ll jam out to almost anything! He also enjoys swimming, cooking Vietnamese food, and binging cartoons like She-Ra and The Dragon Prince on Netflix.

Lori Duran loves history and the joy of a good story. She has a Bachelors in History and a Masters in Latin American Studies and Business Admin from UT Austin. She captures history with photos and tales in her work including her new book “The University of Texas at Austin: The First One Hundred Years”. She is also a proud mother of an adult with autism and has brought history alive for adults with IDDs over years with our program.

Dr. Lisa Sigafoos is an assistant professor of practice in the department of special education at UT. She helps train future special education teachers and teaches undergraduate students about disabilities. Lisa has a passion for working with adults with disabilities. She is the faculty advisor of Best Buddies at UT, works collaboratively with Special Olympics of Texas, and partners with UT’s E4Texas certification program. Lisa also loves science and is fascinated with all things space. She is happily married with three adorable little ones- Roczen, Rennix, and Kinzlyn and two pitbull fur babies.

Kaelin Rubenzer is a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and has worked with adults with disabilities in vocational and educational settings for over 7 years. After volunteering more than any other volunteer in the program, Kaelin began teaching courses ranging from Global Cultures Culinary Arts to Adaptive Outdoor Activities. Kaelin loves to cook, bake challenging pastries, garden, read Japanese fiction, and learn a new crafting hobby every month. 

Susan Rozmiarek has been teaching evening classes for adults with IDDs for over five years. While not teaching or at her day job in a neuroscience research lab at the University of Texas, she can be found enjoying one of her many hobbies. These include hiking, gardening, vegetarian cooking and playing board and computer games.

Lorena Casares is in her third year at Texas A&M, pursuing a major in public health and a minor in Spanish. She enjoys studying science and diseases and hopes to become an epidemiologist after getting her Masters. After volunteering with the Round Rock Special Olympics for several years, she became a volunteer for LLwF and enjoyed her time learning alongside students about different Asian cultures. She is very passionate about accessibility to education and was inspired by her volunteer experience to develop a course that dives into different Latin American countries and cultures. She can’t wait to one day travel across Latin America herself and spends her free time making art, playing with her cat, Daisy, and learning Salsa among other types of dances.

Emily Yisa has 10 years of experience working with individuals with IDDs. She has volunteered and taught classes through UT’s Informal Classes for adults with IDDs. She started a book club for adults with Down syndrome through DSACT in 2013 and continues to facilitate it today. Emily taught life skills for 6 years at Crockett Early College High School. In 2017 Emily received her 200 hour yoga certification. Emily is excited to combine her love of yoga and her passion of working with individuals with IDDs! 

Norys Rodriguez graduated from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, CA with a master’s degree in Fine art photography. Currently she is working as an art teacher at Copperfield elementary school. Prior to her current position, she worked with the GO Project in Austin for 5 years. She worked for more than 13 years in theatrical productions and fine arts in Puerto Rico. Norys loves any and all things outdoors. She loves hiking, crafting, working with wood and traveling with her camera.

Alicia Chen recently graduated from the University of Texas with a BS in Neuroscience. Alicia is currently attending The University of North Texas to get her master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to become a therapist for adults with IDDs. She has been volunteering with LLWF since 2020 and works at The Center for Pursuit, which is a non-profit organization in Houston that provides services for adults with IDDs. Alicia loves her two dogs, listening to music, trying new foods, and doing puzzles! She has had so much volunteering with LLWF and is so excited to teach her first class! 

Eena Lin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2021 with a BSA in Biochemistry and is currently in her first year of medical school. She has been volunteering with LLWF since 2018 and hopes to serve patients with disabilities in the future. In her free time, she loves pursuing her passion for music and the arts. She grew up singing and playing the piano and flute and has placed in various regional and statewide competitions for all three. Right now, she serves on the executive board for her medical school’s acapella group! On days off, you can find her at an orchestra concert or musical theater show, singing and dancing along!

Outreach Team

Kaelin Rubenzer
Natalie Osterlund
Shilpa Rajagopal
Elizabeth Rodriguez
Haity Yu Qin
Courtney Williams

Check out our program’s previous courses.

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