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Friday, February 14, 2020

Beechwood Student Shines in NKU’s Project SEARCH Program

If her name doesn’t ring a bell, her red hair and signature smile surely will. Ft. Mitchell resident and Beechwood High School student, Devin Combs, is adding the colors gold, white, and black to her Beechwood red wardrobe as she participates in Northern Kentucky University’s Project SEARCH program this 2019-2020 school year.

Project SEARCH is an international program with the mission to include individuals with disabilities in the local workforce through job preparation trainings and internships; Northern Kentucky is fortunate to have a section of the program that serves the local community.

Teacher and coordinator of NKU’s Project SEARCH, Lindsay Heiert, proudly shares that the program is in its third year of providing many consistent, focused training tailored to the unique learning styles of many individuals with disabilities.

For Combs, Project SEARCH means gains in both personal and professional growth.

“Devin has increased skills in independence and time management. She follows a schedule and uses a watch to stay on track,” Heiert says, adding that the best part of Combs’s participation in SEARCH is watching her “increase her independence and confidence in herself and her abilities. She enjoys working and getting to know her coworkers in each internship. [Project SEARCH] provides Devin with complete immersion in real-world work environments that will prepare her to be successful in her daily living and work life after completion of the program.”

So far, Combs has participated in two 10-week long internships on campus. She is currently working in the NKU Campus Recreation Center.

 “I think that my strengths are I am good at greeting customers, smile, and tell customers to have a good day,” says Combs.

Beechwood High School teacher Elena McBride is impressed, but not surprised, with Combs’ growth this year.

“Devin, and many young individuals with significant disabilities, absolutely have the ability to learn job and social skills required for the workforce,” says McBride. “It has truly been encouraging to watch her become more independent and confident in her skills through her participation in the program. We, as a school community, are so proud of her.”

The ultimate goal is for Combs to experience meaningful experiences after high school just like her fellow peers.

“Devin will leave Norse Project SEARCH with experiences that are unique to any other transition program. She will have completed three 10 week internships that provide a multitude of job responsibilities that will be added to her resume in order to increase her ability to secure competitive employment within her community. This will provide Devin with the tools to become an engaging participant within her community,” Heiert says.

And that, it will. Project SEARCH is providing Combs with the opportunity to share her talents with the Northern Kentucky community. And while Combs is the one doing most of the learning, McBride says we can all learn a great deal from her.

“I’m certain that we will be hearing more of her accomplishments,” says McBride.

For more information about Project SEARCH, visit

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