6 professors named Disability Advocates of the Year

Six professors were recognized at the sixth annual Disability Advocate of the Year Award Ceremony on Oct. 25. 

The award is given to faculty and administration who have made a positive impact on students when it comes to their disability. 

This year, Linda Earwood, Steve Gulding, Teresa Klein, Walter Kramer, Derek Oden and Gwen Westervelt were recognized for their commitment to and work toward accommodating students’ needs. 

Students of the services are asked to fill out a form and discuss a professor or administrator who has given them a positive experience when it comes to their disability needs. 

Brenda Garcia, student disability specialist, said the inspiration for the awards happened after hearing students share how the instructors made sure that their needs were being met and would often provide them with resources to help better use their approved accommodations. 

“The specialists in the office were hearing positive stories about instructors from the students, who receive services, of how the instructors did not make them feel less than because of their disability or call them out on it,” Garcia said. 

When choosing the honorees from nominations students give, the judging panel consists of one disability specialist, one student and one DMC staff member.

Ballots are read and students will state how the nominee has impacted his or her life. Ballots are collected for one calendar year then voted on in October. 

Each honoree received a certificate with a statement from a student describing how helpful they have been, along with a lapel pin and the honor of being displayed on the Disability Advocate of the Year perpetual plaque. 

Oden, a history professor, was said by one student to be an understanding, caring and overall a great instructor, who would reassure the student that erything would be OK.

Klein, a psychology professor, was described to go above and beyond for students from all walks of life and communities; she advocates for students with disabilities and helps with decision-making. 

“It was an honor to receive this award, the best part about it was the part where my student wrote something nice about me and that means more than any honor. It’s just getting feedback from students that you’re doing something right,” Klein said.

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