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.