Arts & Sciences, Education, Graduate & Professional Studies

On Your Marq, get set, go — Marquette’s program for neurodivergent students reaches new heights 

Marquette is celebrating its highly successful college success program that supports students from neurodivergent backgrounds during Autism Acceptance Month. “The sky’s the limit when it comes to the program’s continued growth,” according to the program’s director.

The On Your Marq college success program has seen remarkable growth since it started in 2019. At that time, five students were enrolled; in 2023, OYM has 43 students enrolled, along with a 100% graduation rate, 93% retention rate, and a 100% job placement or graduate school acceptance rate. 

Filling an increasing need on campus, the program is designed to assist students with autism spectrum disorder, pervasive development disorder, social pragmatic communication disorder, ADHD or other forms of neurodivergence, in navigating the college landscape at Marquette. The first two years of the program focus on the students’ transition to the rigors of academia. In years three and four, students learn to identify strengths and skills that will transfer to their career and life after college. The program also includes peer mentoring, academic coaching and in-house mental health counseling. 

Anne Doepke, a senior double majoring in elementary education and psychology, joined On Your Marq when she was a freshman. She admits transitioning to college life was challenging and she needed help getting established into a new rhythm and daily routine. She says the peer mentors in OYM created a support system and eased the burden of doing it all by herself.   

“They helped me navigate through some of the things I struggled with,” Doepke recalls. “It really made a difference in making me feel comfortable and settled into campus life.” 

Today, Doepke is paying it forward by becoming a peer mentor and helping other students find their paths. For her, being a mentor is just being someone’s friend, whether it’s going to late-night bingo or giving them tips and tricks to get through college life.  

Emily Raclaw, director of On Your Marq, has a front row seat to the program’s success; she says she has been amazed at how the entire campus has embraced the students in the program.  

“Offices have reached out to me and have asked how they can better support us, work together and co-plan events together,” Raclaw says. “I just feel so lucky to be at Marquette where I can reach out to any department on campus and there’s no pushback. They just want to know how they can make things better and be more inclusive.” 

Partners in success 

On Your Marq partnered with the Marquette University Police Department and the Center for Student Wellness and Health Promotion to create sensory kits.

On Your Marq’s most recent collaboration is with the Marquette University Police Department and the Center for Student Wellness and Health Promotion, helping create sensory kits for students to place around campus and take home. The sensory kits help reduce anxiety and promote focus and will be placed in multiple locations on campus including the AMU, Raynor Memorial Libraries and MUPD. The sensory kit is a new way to help students externally throughout campus. 

In addition, the program collaborates internally by partnering students with grad coaches, Ph.D. students in clinical mental health counseling who help students with skills like planning, organization, time management and more. They also provide mental health and wellness check-ins, addressing the needs of the whole student. 

For Doepke, her college years would not have been the same without the support of the program. And the skills she’s acquired will have a continued impact on career trajectory.   

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot of myself through the program,” Doepke reflects. “I’m hoping once I’m done with this to continue reaching out by helping open similar programs as On Your Marq through other colleges.” 

Ultimately, Raclaw says the sky is the limit when it comes to the program’s continued growth, and she is always open to broader collaboration and outreach campuswide. 

“We’re excited to partner across campus in new ways that develop from within the Student Success Initiative,” Raclaw explains. “One way we already see this changing is in how students are treated when they are referred to another campus resource. Where those hand-offs used to be passive, ‘Go talk to that office,’ we are now seeing a much bigger investment in active hand-offs, where staff talk to each other to provide some context for the referral that is being made. I’m hoping there might be lessons from On Your Marq that we can integrate into broader initiatives focused on student success.”