Rachel Mast is saving for college and her dream of owning a pink house.
Rachel Mast is 18-years-old and will graduate from Olathe South High School in May 2018. A savvy saver, she deposited all her birthday money into her Kansas ABLE account and is asking her friends and family to contribute to it for her graduation this year. Rachel, who has Down syndrome, plans to use her savings to pay for college and the pink house she dreams of living in one day. Rachel played a pivotal role in getting ABLE passed in Congress, traveling to Washington, D.C. to speak with her congressmen and senators. She testified before the Kansas Legislature about the importance of ABLE, which led to her being the first person in Kansas to open an ABLE account. As an ABLE Advisor, she will use her personality and people skills to tell others about the benefits of opening an ABLE account to help them achieve their dreams.
November 2019 Update: Rachel was awarded the Laura Lee Self-Advocate Leadership Award at the State of the Art Conference and gave one of the keynotes. Watch her speech.
January 2020 Update: Article on Rachel being awarded the Laura Lee Self-Advocate Leadership Award.
December 2021 Update: Rachel shares blogs on employment and adult life; links to external posts:
Rachel Mast: My Real Thoughts On Adult Life – thesassysoutherngal
Jawanda Mast, Rachel’s Mom: My Real Thoughts On Adult Life
Rachel Mast’s Highlight from the June 2018 AchievABLE Newsletter
Rachel Mast, who just turned 19, played a pivotal role in getting ABLE passed in Congress, traveling to Washington, D.C. to speak with her congressmen and senators. She was also the first person in Kansas to open an ABLE account, testifying before the Kansas Legislature about the importance of ABLE.
A May 2018 graduate of Olathe South High School, Rachel, who has Down syndrome, asked her friends and family to contribute to her Kansas ABLE account in lieu of graduation gifts. This fall Rachel will be a student at the Johnson County Community College Clear program. She hopes to attend the Missouri State University Bear POWER program, a two-year inclusive college program for individuals with intellectual disabilities, beginning in January 2019.
A savvy ABLE account owner, Rachel plans to use her ABLE funds to help accomplish her first step toward independence – assisting with the cost of college – and her dream of buying her pink house.
As an ABLE Advisor, Rachel is using her personality, her people skills and her ABLE story to inspire others to open an ABLE account to invest in themselves and live their dreams too.
The ABLE National Resource Center is proud to have Rachel as part of our 2018 ABLE Advisors.
Rachel Mast’s Highlight from the November 2018 AchievABLE Newsletter
Rachel Mast, 19, like many teenagers transitioning into adulthood, has been spending the fall semester attending community college and working at a restaurant. She is a student in the Johnson County Community College CLEAR (College Learning Experiences, Activities and Resources) program, working part-time as a hostess at Olive Garden to save money. Rachel and her mom, Jawanda, initially thought she might need a job coach to help with her employment training, a qualified disability expense under ABLE. However, the manager at Olive Garden and his team felt confident that they could support Rachel without a job coach. According to Rachel, they have been awesome, providing support and accommodations that include a laminated map of the numbered tables for Rachel to carry to help her seat patrons. United States Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kansas), with whom Rachel and Jawanda worked closely to pass ABLE legislation in Kansas, along with his family, even came into the restaurant recently to see Rachel and to enjoy the unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks.
In January 2019, Rachel will be starting a two-year, five-semester inclusive college program with Missouri State University’s (MSU) Bear POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Work, Education and Resilience) program, designed for students with intellectual disabilities. The program is focused on maintaining academic standards through modification of coursework while preparing students for employment. Rachel went to a homecoming event at MSU this fall where she met up with Rachel Heinz, the director of the Bear POWER program. While she was on campus, she spotted a Mac Airbook laptop at the campus bookstore that comes with a student discount. Realizing that it was a good deal for something she needs for her coursework, she plans to make this purchase using her ABLE funds. She will also be using her ABLE account to pay for her books and for student and activities fees.
Rachel received a “Ruby’s Rainbow” scholarship along with a scholarship from the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City. These will assist in covering her tuition and part of her Bear POWER program fees for her first semester. However, moving forward, Rachel will use her ABLE account funds to help cover tuition payments, program fees and other college-related expenses. She will continue to use her Supplemental Security Income (SSI) funds to pay for food and housing, bypassing her ABLE account as a best practice.
Rachel is using her platform as an ABLE Advisor to show other students with disabilities how they can use their ABLE account to support their transition into adulthood, continued education and employment.
The ABLE National Resource Center is proud to have Rachel as one of our 2018 ABLE Advisors.