Transformations Magazine January 2014 - page 11

“If the university has
adapted to meet the
needs of the student
so that there no
longer needs to be
an accommodation,
then that to me is a
success.”
disabilities office. During the
second semester of my senior
year, the university gave me
their highest award for an
undergraduate: The Carol S.
Adelstein Outstanding Student
Award for students with
disabilities who are inspirations
to others on and off campus
through excellence in academic
achievement, leadership,
extracurricular activities, and
social and personal qualities.
The award often goes to a person
with a physical disability; I was
the first recipient of the award
to have a hidden disability. In
my acceptance speech, I became
an advocate, not just for me,
but for the Office of Disability
Services. [In the speech] I noted
that the disabilities office was
in the basement of the alumni
gymnasium and there was no
elevator to that office. They had
installed an accessible door to the
office, but to get to that door, you
had to go down steps from the
sidewalk. Later, the director for
the Office of Disabilities, Jacob
Karnes, told me “You could do this
for a living.” That was good news
for English major who had decided
he did not want to be a teacher.
So I looked at grad schools and
chose Wright State University,
which is known for being one of
the most accessible campuses
in the United States. They have
an exceptional educational
psychology program. I was able to
get a graduate assistantship.
DR:
After graduate school, what
was the first position you held?
MS:
I was the Assistant Learning
Disabilities Coordinator at
the University of Tennessee in
Knoxville. Then I moved up to the
position of Learning Disabilities
Coordinator at that campus. I
learned a lot about policies and
procedures with the case load
there. However, I was not fond
of the large campus atmosphere.
My parents were not getting
younger while my nephew and
niece were getting older. I came to
IU Southeast because I wanted to
be closer to them and to work at a
smaller campus and build a strong
program.
DR:
What do you like best about
being the Disabilities Coordinator?
MS:
I’ve often said that I know
I’ve done a good job when I no
longer have a job to do. It’s nice
to see a student who technically
becomes inactive. If the university
has adapted to meet the needs of
the student so that there no longer
needs to be an accommodation,
then that to me is a success. When
my field is no longer needed
because the climate of the academy
is such that we no longer need to
accommodate students based on
measures that are unimportant,
like time and penmanship, then
that would be a great day for me.
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