Meet the Staff and Support Team

alexis

Alexis Bennet, Employment Specialist

BA in communication, Masters in Social Work, GSW - licensed graduate social worker 

Favorite thing about Beyond Limits:
The joy each student brings every morning. When I walk in to the classroom in the morning each student greets me with a huge smile and a story to share from the last time we saw each other. There are so many exciting things happening in their lives and it's really cool to see them bursting at the seams to share what they are learning, doing, and accomplishing!

Goals for Beyond Limits Students:
Our students are already accomplishing their goals on a daily basis! We are seeing improvements by the minute, however if I had to pick one thing I want to accomplish for our students it would be to dig deep and uncover their God given talents and take these gifts and individualize an employment plan for our students to gain competitive employment in the community.

Favorite memory so far:
Oh goodness, there are SO many! My most recent, happiest, and proudest memory is when one of our students who works on campus on the dish washing crew found a passion for making pizzas. He took this passion and started helping out the Bethany kitchen prep crew on Fridays for pizza night. He volunteered his time to work extra hours to gain a skill in making pizzas. He also loves to eat pizza; it was a win win! With this knowledge we approached Pizza Rev in Edina and this student gained an interview with the manager. I was so impressed with his interview skills. I realized quickly that he didn't need me in the interview, which is the best thing that could have happened. He was independently interviewing for a job! So cool! Half way through the interview the manager offered this student a job, with competitive pay and bought us a pizza to celebrate! It is so cool to see the community open their arms to opportunity and see our students welcomed in.

mara1

Mara Fornicoia, Educational Specialist

Masters degree in Special Education, Bachelors degree in Social Work.

Favorite thing about Beyond Limits:
Watching the students exceed everyone's expectations! Watching them build friendships, work, learn
and play alongside their BGU peers, and see their confidence grow day by day.

Goals for Beyond Limits Students:
To help our students recognize their strengths, and to keep pushing and learning. I want them to leave here knowing that they are capable, have God given strengths and talents, and to be able to take that out into the community and keep proving to themselves and to everyone else that they have a lot to offer.

Favorite memory so far:
When we were out grocery shopping, and one of our students was chatting with a guy at the Redbox kiosk. The guy told us he worked for a group home nearby and asked us what group home we were from. Another student answered adamantly, "We aren't from a group home, we're going to college!" The pride in her voice was truly priceless!

James Jenkins, Integration Specialist

Associates degree in Bible Studies and Theology and Intercultural Studies from Bethany Global University. 

Favorite thing about Beyond Limits:
I get to engage in ministry by being myself and having fun. I get to see students grow in independence and build true relationships with other students in the community.

Goals for Beyond Limits Students:
I want them to leave this program with the confidence to self advocate, build lasting relationships, and enjoy community within a workplace. 

Favorite memory so far:
Having the opportunity to take a Beyond Limits student all the way home to Illinois with me when I was a student during spring break and introduce him to my friends and family.

stevez

Steve Ziemke, Director

Bachelors degree in Pastoral Studies, Years of experience in Churches and Christian non profits.  Dad of a pioneering Beyond Limits student.

Favorite thing about Beyond Limits:
Seeing students with special needs have the opportunity to attend a residential Christian College. I love seeing them involved in the social aspects of college. So much learning takes place in and out of the classroom when students are having fun!

Goals for Beyond Limits Students:
Honestly, our original goal for Beyond Limits was to see if we could pull this off and keep all the students alive through the first semester.  They didn’t just stay alive - they thrived!  My goal is that they have a blast in college, make some lifelong friends and learn that God will love, lead and keep them the rest of their lives.

Favorite memory so far: 
Anytime I see a BGU student helping, including, or just naturally hanging out with Beyond Limits students.  I love seeing the walls of separation between people with disabilities and typically developing young adults melt away through real relationships.  As a result I have lots and lots of favorite memories because it happens all the time!