18 Jun 2010

When I was a student at Ball State University almost 30 years ago, there were few students with disabilities on campus. Today, the campus serves nearly 600 students with disabilities each year. Its facilities are among the nation’s most accessible. Ball State also offers a state-of-the-art transportation system that is essential for students with disabilities to travel to and from classes, work, and social activities.

One of the cornerstones of Ball State’s commitment to students with disabilities is its Disabled Student Development department. Led by Director Larry Markle, the department serves a vital function in empowering students with disabilities to take control over their educational experiences. Earlier this year, disabilityfriendlycolleges.com named Ball State one of the top 75 colleges for students with disabilities, in that they go above and beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I have a strong personal connection to Ball State – as both a graduate and a person with a disability. I was so honored – and humbled – in 2009 when a longtime award and scholarship program for students with disabilities was renamed the Fehribach Awards. The awards honor students with disabilities and recognize academic achievement. They also applaud students for their involvement in activities outside of the classroom. Working with Larry Markle and the Disabled Student Development department, we honored the following outstanding students in 2010:

  • Samantha Cook, a senior speech pathology major, who has studied abroad in Australia.
  • Patrick Mautner, a junior history major, who is involved in the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and the College Republicans.
  • Laura Medcalf, a junior elementary education major, who is one of the founders of the Ball State Power Soccer team.
  • Josh Mitchell, a graduate student in the student affairs program, who has worked with Recreation Services and Academic Advising.
  • Jennifer Vetor, a senior general studies major, who has served as the vice president of Disabled Students in Action as well as a student worker in the Adaptive Technology Lab.

Each of these talented students represents the future for both people with disabilities and for our country. I’m extremely proud to be able to be a part of their journey, and look forward to the many accomplishments that are undoubtedly ahead of them.

The 2010 Fehribach Award Winners. Pictured from left to right are: Jennifer Vetor; Greg Fehribach; Mary Beth Fehribach; Josh Mitchell; Laura Medcalf; Patrick Mautner; Samantha Cook.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Ball State University is to be commended for The Fehribach Awards. I wish that every institution of higher education would create similar awards.

    Over the course of our history as a country, one of our greatest strengths has been the quality of higher education that we have offered our citizens, and the citizens of countries around the world. Armed with a higher education, we have and will continue to transform the globe. What is especially important is that a higher education is accessible for everyone. Everyone should have the chance to contribute.

    My congratulations to the award winners, who have so much to offer.

    And my congratulations to Greg Fehribach, who has been so generous with his own time, talent, and treasure.

    Robert White
    Professor of Sociology

  2. Anonymous says:

    It was an honor to receive the Ferhibach Award. Ball State is definately one of the most accessible college campus in the region. I enjoy speaking up for individuals with disabilities as well as educating individuals without disabilities. Receiving the award gives me the drive to work even harder to educate and promote disability awareness. The staff in the Disabled Student Development Office do an amazing job of assisting students with disabilities.

    Jenny Vetor
    Ball State University
    President, Disabled Students in Action

  3. In 1983 my very first publication in a professional magazine promoted “an architecture at the service of everyone”. The actual title of the article was “Una Arquitectura al Servicio de Todos” and it was written in Spanish. I was a practicing architect and urbanist (a hybrid of urban planner and urban designer) in Lima, Peru. I had recently returned from Toronto where as part of my master-level studies in architecture I had the privilege of interacting with several classmates that had physical disabilities. Through long hours of close interaction in our design studios I learned about the wealth of experiences and richness of ideas that they brought to the table.

    For me this was the first time that I had classmates with disabilities. In Peru I never had that opportunity because people with disabilities are invisible. They are absent from the public eye because the built environment limits their access to public space. My article in 1983 was a call for awareness and change. Personally I’m in depth with the classmates in Toronto that brought that awareness to me.

    I am extremely proud of our Ball State students recently recognized by the 2010 Fehribach Award. Their presence in our campus is not only a testimony of their strength and drive but also their generosity. They bring to our campus an awareness that is critical in the process of making our collective a more evolved and fundamentally better society.

    Congratulations and thank you, not only to the five students that have been recognized with the Fehribach Award this year, but to all our students with disabilities. Thank you for choosing Ball State as your college. We are certainly proud to count you among our best students.

  4. Kate Matelan says:

    Congratulations to all of the winners! Although I am not a student at Ball State, I can truly relate to the college experience and promoting disability awareness. I am a recent graduate of Bucknell University with a degree in Business Management, and I plan on using my future endeavors to continue making positive change. Throughout Jan-May, I was traveling to different colleges and universities to speak on behalf of my platform from the Ms. Wheelchair USA win I took in 2009. Interacting with all of the students on these campuses gave me the opportunity to connect and educate others on disabilities while hearing the stories of others college students.

    With my goals of being Editor-in-Chief of a lifestyle women's magazine, a published author, an avid supporter of the disabled community, and even the head of a start-up non-profit, I can only hope others are aspiring to do the same. From a business perspective, I have much to contribute to the economy as a citizen, but have added value as a disabled person. Think of the perspective disabled individuals can bring to the workplace–whether that be a magazine or a financial institution. The more disabled persons can become an integral component of the business, legal, and professional world, the more we can all help in breaking down stereotypes and instilling the positive change needed to create even more opportunities in the future.

    So the real question is: where are YOU headed? Let everyone know where you're going next…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to the awardees! So nice to read. Help change the world.

    Jeanne Sowa
    Easter Seals

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