Spotlight on Luke Tyrrell, a Bright and Talented Freshman at Calvin University

Guest Post by Yamna Bukhari

We are excited to share that GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit’s very own Luke Tyrrell began his journey in tertiary education this 2022-23 academic year! Luke is a part of the Ready for Life program at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, and a proud recipient of a Ruby’s Rainbow scholarship. I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Luke about his new experience navigating life as a college student.

College Life so Far

Upon asking Luke how he felt about school, he told me, college has been enjoyable, he has met good people and made many new friends. Luke is taking on the experience of higher learning with a lot of confidence. He is joining new clubs like Arts and Crafts, and learning his way around Calvin’s large campus. One of his favorite on-campus study spots is Pete’s Coffee, which doubles as a library and café.

Dorm Life

Luke now lives an hour away from home, on campus with his roommate, Charles. Luke and Charles met each other through our GiGiFIT Adult program (!!), and now they are great friends and enjoying their first year of college together. Luke says his favorite part about living in a dorm is getting to hang out with friends after classes in a shared space.

Luke and Charles, Roommates at Calvin University 

Academic Studies

As a Wellness and Health major, some classes Luke takes are Disability and Communication, Theatre, and Philosophy. He says his favorite class is Theatre because he has been involved in several musicals and plays, along with the GiGi’s Playhouse Drama Troupe over the past few years. Luke describes his cohort as a supportive group and praises the professors at Calvin for their kindness. Luke said he decided to major in Wellness and Health as it will inform him on how to stay healthy throughout his life. He envisions applying his degree toward assistant teaching in a classroom as he is excellent with kids.

Luke delivering a tearjerking speech at The Lucky Have a Few event in March

Luke’s Message

Luke says the message he would give to his peers at GiGi’s who are thinking about attending university is, “Work hard, follow your dreams, and pursue what you can.” Luke wants to tell people it’s okay to be nervous about going to college because it is a new experience for everyone. He describes Calvin as a great place to make new friends and grow.

Luke and Hope during one of many programs at GiGi’s

Involvement with GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit

Luke Tyrrell is a member of GiGi’s Board of Directors and proudly identifies as a Self-Advocate. His involvement with GiGi’s Playhouse includes volunteering as an assistant literacy tutor and with GiGiFIT Toddler. Luke has also participated in many adult programs and describes his experience at GiGi’s as “life-changing” because of the opportunities it has given him.

Luke and Bev presenting their young pupil, Zac, a Certificate of Achievement for Literacy

Without a doubt, Luke will continue doing amazing things in college and beyond! We are blessed to have him in our Down syndrome community, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.


About the Author:

Hi! I’m Yamna Bukhari from Chicago, Illinois, and I am a volunteer for GiGi’s Playhouse. I am a student at Saint Louis University studying Health Sciences and Biology on the Pre-Medicine track. When I have free time on my hands, some of the things I like to do are reading, painting, and baking. As a high school student, I would tutor my peers and underclassmen so when I heard from a family friend about the tutoring program at GiGi’s, I was excited to try it out! I quickly found myself loving this role because of the wonderful participants and their families.


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  1. Linda Novograd on August 1, 2023 at 9:34 am

    I just read some of the features about the Volunteers and when I came to the one on Luke Tyrell, I nearly fell off of my chair! I was Luke’s first teacher in the Early Intervention Program that was a part of the Bloomfield Hills School District (Michigan). I was a special education teacher and consultant and spent the greater part of my professional life (37 years) in this position. Luke, as a grown up adult, reminds me of the Luke I knew so well as an infant and preschooler! He was always a sparkle in my eye working diligently to achieve all of the goals set out for him. His parents and extended families were supportive and engaging as cheerleaders for his growth and development. He has been able to accomplish so much since his infancy that confirms what I’ve known that we should never take a medical diagnosis as a limiting outcome! I am so proud of Luke and all of his accomplishments! Which Kroger store will I find you working??

    • Bethany Wells on August 3, 2023 at 9:14 am

      Wow, thanks so much for sharing!!! We will pass your message along to Luke and his parents. He works at the Kroger on Evergreen and 12 Mile in Southfield.

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