David Heller, a basketball-loving freshman, is a student in TCNJ’s Career and Community Studies program—a four-year certificate program for students with developmental disabilities. Heller recently was featured on The Good Men Project’s website, which explores the forms “good men” take in the 21st century. TCNJ Magazine talked with Heller about his newfound independence, the importance of following your dreams and how he became an Internet celebrity.
> For the next four years, I’ll take classes and live a block from campus with two roommates from the CCS program and a house mentor. I’m excited for new adventures, for learning new things and to have some independence.
> I have a lot of friends. Some of them have Down syndrome, some don’t. But they’re all pretty much the same. We have the same interests, we like to do the same things, and we love to have fun.
> My mom went to The College of New Jersey, so that’s part of why I wanted to attend. We’ll both be able to say we graduated from TCNJ.
> Packer Hall is my favorite spot on campus because I love sports—especially basketball. I managed the boys’ basketball team at my high school, and those guys were like my brothers.
> I met both of my college roommates before move-in. One loves music, and I hope he can teach me to play the piano. The other managed his school’s basketball team, so we’re going to cheer at the TCNJ games together. Our house manager is a TCNJ student, too.
> I want people to know that I’m a loving, caring, passionate guy who’s excited to be going to college. People should always follow their dreams and listen to their hearts. That’s what I’m doing.
> I’ve traveled a lot. My favorite trip was to Los Angeles, California, where I got to meet my favorite band, Big Time Rush, and ask them questions. My interview with them is on YouTube, and 23,000 people have seen it.
> I’d tell other college students to make sure you work hard, stay focused and whatever you’re going for, go for it. And also, stay cool.
— as told to Molly Petrilla