by Nathaniel Parish

Louisiana State University at Alexandria (LSUA) is moving forward with its plan to offer a post-secondary educational program for young people with developmental disabilities. 

SPERO (Special Program for the Enhancement of Resources and Opportunities) will launch in fall 2022. It will be open to young people 18- to 28-years-old with an identified learning disability who are otherwise ineligible for regular college admission. To take part in SPERO, students must also have completed high school and have a high school diploma, career diploma or equivalent.

As participants, SPERO students will audit some college-level classes and participate in on-campus events and activities. They will also take program classes designed to improve their daily living skills, interpersonal skills and employment skills while receiving vocational training either on campus or at approved off-campus venues. 

“Central Louisiana has few educational options for young people with developmental disabilities who have graduated from high school but are ineligible for regular college admission” said Dr. Eamon Halpin, the chair of the program steering committee. Halpin also noted that while other regions in Louisiana have similar programs “SPERO will be the first program operating on a four-year college campus in central or north Louisiana.”

LSUA intends to launch SPERO with an initial cohort of four students. Prospective students will be invited to apply in May 2022. 

The program is funded by a grant award of $126,000 from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.

“SPERO will not only enrich the lives of its students through connections and experience, but will also train them in the skills necessary for live more healthy, joyful lives within the community. It’s a positive, important step and we are grateful to our partners at LSUA for letting us be a part of its launch,” said Michael Tipton, president of the Blue Cross Foundation.  

“We deeply appreciate the support our community and organizations like Blue Cross have shown for this program,” said Dr. Paul Coreil, chancellor of LSUA. “’Spero’ means ‘I hope’ in Latin, and we hope that this program will thrive and open doors to opportunities to its students.”

For more information about SPERO, call Dr. Eamon Halpin at (318) 767-2603 or email

A press conference announcing the receipt of the grant award from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation took place in July in the Live Oaks Room on the LSUA Campus.

Michael Tipton – President of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation
Michael Tipton and Judy Miller – Director on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation Board
Eamon Halpin – Associate Vice Chancellor and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Paul Coreil – LSUA Chancellor, Michael Tipton, John Rowan – Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

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