Beacon begins 30th year; students from 40 states, 7 countries

Beacon College in downtown Leesburg will kick off its 30thanniversary next month and the nonprofit liberal arts school continues to grow. School officials project the college is on pace of serving 500 students in three years.

Currently, Beacon is home to students from 40 states and territories and seven countries. The college encompasses 22 acres and 19 buildings, including four student residences that house more than 90 percent of students who live on campus.

Founded in 1989 — a year before the Americans with Disabilities Act — Beacon College is America’s first accredited baccalaureate school to educate primarily students with learning disabilities, ADHD, dyslexia, autistic-spectrum disorders, and other learning differences.

“Beacon boasts a 10-year average 70 percent on-time graduation rate for students completing their degrees in four years,” Darryl Owens, director of communications at Beacon College, said in an email. “That’s almost double the 10-year national average for all students (with and without a learning disability).”

He adds nearly every Beacon alum has transitioned to graduate study or employment.

“Our graduates currently attend leading colleges and universities across the nation and work for some of the most recognized names in America. And this isn’t a chance occurrence; 83.5 percent is our nine-year average,” Darryl says.

He notes Beacon has an international presence and has been helping students from 40 states and U.S. territories and seven countries compete in the global marketplace.

“That mission ignores borders,” says Darryl. “The college has formed partnerships and conducted training in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and India. The college also recently launched in Prato, Italy the first-ever semester-long study abroad program for this population and is finalizing plans for a second program in Tokyo.”

Beacon will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a weeklong series of events from Oct. 5-14, including its first symposium on learning disabilities, featuring Steve Silberman, an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, the MIT Technology Review, Nature, Salon, Shambhala Sun, and many other publications. He is the author of “NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity” (Avery 2015), which Oliver Sacks called a “sweeping and penetrating history…presented with a rare sympathy and sensitivity.”

The book became a widely-praised bestseller in the United States and the United Kingdom, and won the 2015 Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction, a California Book Award, and a Books for a Better Life award. It was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2015 by The New York Times, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Boston Globe, The Independent, and many other publications, and is being translated into 15 languages.

Using his popular book as a launching point, the author will explore the future of neurodiversity and the benefits and challenges of embracing it in our increasingly globally-connected world.

The history of Beacon College, including profiles 15 alumni, including a cybersecurity analyst for the Department of Homeland Security and Beacon’s first alumna to earn a Ph.D. can be viewed at