Ball State Alum Responsible for the Success of the Workforce Recruitment Program
For 16 years, the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) has been assisting college students and recent graduates with disabilities in their job searches. The program is part of the US Department of Labor and is a valuable resource as it connects government employers nationwide with qualified students. Whether potential employers are seeking to fill temporary or permanent positions, there are a variety of students in the program ranging from college freshmen to graduate and law students representing all majors.
Sara Mahoney, a 2006 graduate of Ball State University, has been the Business Development Specialist for WRP since 2009. Her experiences with the WRP began as an undergraduate student and continued through graduate school while she earned her master’s degree in the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education program. While studying at Ball State, she also had a graduate assistantship within the Disabled Student Development office where she was able to assist with the implementation of the WRP at Ball State that year.
With an interest in college students transitioning from college to employment, Sara felt as though Ball State prepared her for her current position due to her ability to mold her experiences both in her classes and at her assistantship to fit her specific interest. “I was able to tailor everything that I did at Ball State to my interests, and I don’t think I would have been able to do that at other schools or in other programs.”
After graduating from Ball State, she started the WRP at Georgetown and was the Campus Coordinator there as well. Currently, Sara is responsible for managing the day to day tasks associated with the success of the WRP program. She has created the 3-hour online recruiter training program, manages recruiters and their schedules, and coordinates their week-long trips to various college campuses for the interview processes.
Each year, the WRP coordinates on-campus interviews at colleges and universities nationwide. Brandon Bute, the WRP Campus Coordinator in the Ball State Career Center, has been very active in the coordination of the WRP interviews this year through assisting the students with their preparation for the interviews. “We worked with the students to prepare them on how to sell themselves in these interviews.”
After the interviews are set up, the WRP sends recruiters to college campuses nationwide to interview students with disabilities to be included in the WRP database. During the interview, students are asked general questions about their major, strengths and weaknesses, as well as their ideal job. Once the interview is complete, information about the student is placed into the WRP database. The database is then made available in December for employers from both the private and public sectors to search the potential employees.
This year, the WRP interviewed seven Ball State students, and according to Brandon Bute, “Those that I was able to follow up with felt good about [their interviews] … They said that they felt positive about the experience and didn’t regret anything about it.”
DSD Director Larry Markle indicates that in each year Ball State has hosted the WRP at least one student has been offered a job or internship. “It is really a win-win situation for students. They get good interviewing experience and have the opportunity to land a nice position with a public sector employer. And, I am thrilled that Sara is doing such good work to ensure meaningful employment for students with disabilities.”
2011-2012 Bush Scholarship Recipients
Disabled Student Development would like to acknowledge and congratulate the 2011-2012 recipients of the Myrna Bush Scholarship. As a 1928 graduate of Ball State, Myrna Bush endowed funds to the university to support students with visual impairments. Recipients of the award were selected based on a combination of their academic achievement and their involvement on campus. This year, twelve students received the Myrna Bush Scholarship Award.
Jacob Caudill: Sophomore, Business
Dietrich Eherenman: Graduate Student, Information and Communication Science
Brittany Feilen: Sophomore, Special Education
Blaine Helm: Sophomore, German
Seth Johnson: Junior, Journalism
Lauren Kopf: Sophomore, Public Relations
Andrew Neylon: Sophomore, English Literature
Dena Polston: Graduate Student, Adult and Community Education
Amanda Rusk: Sophomore, Criminal Justice and Psychology
Rochelle Schmitt: Sophomore, Psychology
Jennifer Vetor: Senior, General Studies
Michael White: Junior, Biology
For more information or to apply for this scholarship, please visit the DSD website.
DSIA semester review
It has been a great fall semester for Disabled Students in Action (DSIA). Several new officers have taken over the leadership positions this year. The current officers are as follows: Syd Comer, President; Nate Deahl, Vice President; Jake Caudill, Treasurer; and Brittany Feilen, Secretary. They started organizing before the semester began and advertised the group at the Activity Fair on August 20th, the Saturday before classes began. The group distributed flash drives with the DSIA logo and had over 50 people sign up for the group’s email list. Since then, they have planned several different events throughout the semester.
The group had an introductory meeting to discuss goals for the year. They also had a bowling party for their meeting in October as a way to have some fun mid-semester. Finally, DSIA created sweatshirts this semester. They used the same logo but did a different color than last year. The sweatshirts are available in the DSD office for $5 each.
During March, which is Disability Awareness Month in Indiana, DSIA will partner with DSD and other campus organizations to host events. The DSIA leadership is currently working with Associate Director, Courtney Jarrett, to finalize the activities. They are planning to have some guest speakers, a couple of films, and an Awareness Table throughout the month. Please check the DSD website (www.bsu.edu/dsd) in January for the list of scheduled events. We hope to see you there!
New Student Profile: Sarah Sims
Sarah Sims is in her freshman year at Ball State and is off to a great start. A native of Fort Wayne, Sarah attended Homestead High School and graduated in 2011. While in high school, she played trombone in the orchestra. She was also very heavily involved in the wheelchair basketball team at Turnstone which is a not-for-profit organization in Fort Wayne that provides supportive services for people with physical disabilities and their families. “Wheelchair basketball was a huge part of my life. I played for eight years and I miss it at the moment because it was so much fun.” Her hobbies include reading books by her favorite author Jodi Picoult and cooking.
Sarah chose to attend Ball State for several reasons. “I just love being here. I like the environment. It’s not too big where you feel alienated, but I’ve also been places where it feels too small. It’s just the right size.” She is majoring in Social Work and is looking forward to a future career within the field. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Sarah plans to pursue her master’s degree with hopes of one day working in child protective services or as a medical social worker facilitating care planning for people transferring to nursing homes or rehabilitation centers.
Sarah is an excellent student and is actively involved in the Grace Village Lutheran Episcopal Campus Ministry as well as the Faculty Mentorship Program through DSD. Sarah joined the FMP because she wanted a mentor that she could talk to about everything from her social work major and classes to transitioning socially into college life. “The program has been very beneficial to me. A faculty mentor is a great resource when trying to navigate Ball State as a freshman!”
DSD Grant in Final Year
Ensuring a Quality Education for Indiana Students with Disabilities, a $427,000 grant that Ball State researchers received from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, is in its final year. The grant, based on the successful Faculty Mentorship Program for students with disabilities, has allowed Ball State to offer educational programming for faculty in working with students with disabilities, and provide additional assistance for students with disabilities on campus.
The principal investigators of the grant, DSD director Larry Markle, Learning Center coordinator Jacqueline Harris, and Ball State faculty members Taiping Ho and Roger Wessel, plan to continue with the specific programs they initiated in the grant and share the results of their work at other postsecondary institutions.
In the years since the grant has been implemented, approximately 150 students with disabilities have been connected with a faculty member in the student’s major or area of interest. The faculty member serves as an informal mentor for the student, helping the student better understand expectations of students at the college level. The students in the program have consistently outperformed students not in the program-higher grade point averages, better retention rates, and wider use of campus services.
Faculty have additionally benefited from their participation. The grant has allowed the university to provide over thirty educational sessions for faculty on best practices in teaching students with disabilities. Many of these sessions have been recorded and are available on DSD’s website at www.bsu.edu/dsd (click on “Federal Grant” for more information).
Adaptive Technology at Ball State
The Adaptive Computer Technology Lab was created in 1992 to provide a central location on campus for students to access Adaptive Technology. Though the technology is also available on computers campuswide, the lab serves several purposes for students with disabilities including providing a location for students to work on their assignments. The knowledgeable staff helps to obtain resources in accessible formats as well as assist students with computer questions and training on how to use the adaptive technology.
There is a wide variety of technology available in the lab for students with visual impairments, physical disabilities, and learning disabilities to utilize. Students are able to print documents in a larger format, use the display readers, as well as the Braille printer. There is also the ability to convert textbooks into accessible formats by scanning the book or setting text from outside sources in accessible formats.
New in the lab is the ability to find more text books in accessible formats from the AccessText Network. This is ideal for the lab as it decreases the number of books that have to be cut and scanned and it also allows students to receive their accessible text faster. Also new in the lab is Braille music conversion which gives music majors the ability to have their sheet music transformed into Braille. The students bring their music to the lab, the lab assistants scan the music into the computer and after extensive editing the music is printed into Braille format for the student.
Carlos Taylor is the Adaptive Computer Technology Specialist and is responsible for overseeing the lab, obtaining new software, helping the lab assistants with questions they may have about the computers and software, and training students on the usage of adaptive technology. Taylor has been working in the lab for several years and says that there is always something new going on in the lab. “[The technology] may not be brand new, but we’re always updating what we have and testing new products.” One of the biggest changes Taylor has seen while working there is the popularity of wireless technology. “Students are able to use technology in more places than in [the adaptive technology] lab; they are able to be in their dorm rooms or computer labs as well. Wireless is all over so they’re not tied to one place.”
Although new technological trends such as online classes are beneficial to students with disabilities, there will always be the need to ensure that they are implemented in an accessible way for all students. New technology such as iPads and iPhones and their applications are also helping students with disabilities to be more mobile and independent. Taylor does, however, stress the importance of ensuring that those devices and applications are accessible both now and in the future. “As wonderful as technology is, there are barriers especially with new technology that is not always accessible.”
For more information about Ball State’s Adaptive Computer Technology Lab, contact Carlos Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the lab in room 134G of the Robert Bell building.
DSD Awards Program
The annual Disabled Student Development and Disabled Students in Action awards program is scheduled for Tuesday, April 10, at 3pm in Cardinal Hall B of the Student Center. You are welcome to join us as we recognize outstanding students with disabilities and an alumnus with a disability, and say “thank you” to faculty and staff members for accessibility assistance.
Creating an Accessible Super Bowl
Though the home town team will not be represented, the city of Indianapolis will be at the center of the football world on Sunday, February 5, when the Super Bowl is played at Lucas Oil Stadium. With a goal of hosting the most accessible Super Bowl ever, staff and volunteers have been at work for months to ensure that the game and all of the events surrounding it are welcoming and accessible for individuals with disabilities.
Ball State graduate and Indianapolis attorney Greg Fehribach is co-chairing the ADA Disability Inclusion Committee for the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee. Fehribach and his committee have been busy training the thousands of volunteers in best practices for making the game day and the events leading up to the Super Bowl as a first-class experience for fans with disabilities. In addition to providing training and literature detailing best practices in working with persons with disabilities, Fehribach and his committee have created a hotline that can be reached for specific questions relative to accessibility.
“Indianapolis has had over 15 years of commitment to accessibility for guests and neighbors who are aging and who have disabilities,” Fehribach stated. “This year’s Super Bowl is the marquee event that will illuminate the hospitality and commitment to the inclusion of fans and guests with disabilities.”
In addition to his work as an attorney and nationally-recognized expert on ADA issues pertaining to facilities (he consulted on the design of Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Governor’s Residence, and the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center), Fehribach is a Distinguished Fellow at Ball State’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs. Heading up the Disability Project at the Bowen Center, Fehribach is studying the employment of individuals with disabilities from a public policy perspective and working to create jobs and internships for college students with disabilities. As part of his work with the Bowen Center, Fehribach teaches courses at Ball State on the political and economic impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Fehribach has enlisted some of his students as volunteers for this year’s Super Bowl. “We’re excited that several of our students have immersed themselves as volunteers to assist with the Disability/Mobility Assistance Team,” Fehribach said. “This is exactly how we’d hoped the project would work.”
Cheri [Stephens] Ryder. Cheri died this past July. While at BSU [graduate '87], Cheri influenced so many persons with her quiet leadership. She worked in the DSD office for several years and made many contributions to access and opportunity for students with disabilities. She received an MSW from IU and worked in the mental health field. She received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from DSD in 1996.
Brian Eckstein. Brian died in November. He had a wonderful presence on campus and the community. He became a volunteer for our NPR station starting in high school and continuing after his graduation from BSU. He was a mainstay of the station serving as Production Manager. Music was a central element of his life as a composer, singer and instrumental player. He received DSD's Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2008.
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