07 May 2012
Recipients of the 2012 Fehribach Awards gather for a photo with Greg and Mary Beth Fehribach.  Bottom row, left to right:  Laura Walter, Allen Caldwell, Jr., Greg Fehribach and Syndey Comer.  Top row, left to right:  Mary Beth Fehribach, Jacob Caudill, Seth Johnson and Patricia Kupchik. 

Recently, Mary Beth and I had the opportunity to honor six outstanding students at Ball State University with the Fehribach Awards.  This award and scholarship program recognizes students with disabilities for their academic achievements and extracurricular activities. 
I’ve had the privilege and pleasure to come into contact with many of the award winners through my work at Ball State’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs.  Engaging with these students, who are the next generation of community, business and political leaders, is one of the highlights of the semester. 
Working with Larry Markle and Ball State’s Disabled Student Development team, we honored the following students in 2012:
  • Allen Caldwell, a senior telecommunications major, is a founding member of the Ball State power soccer team and has twice competed in the national championships.  Allen is involved in residence hall activities and has served as a mentor to new students with disabilities.
  • Jacob Caudill, a sophomore business major, serves as the vice president of Disabled Students in Action and is a senator in the Student Government Association.
  • Sydney Comer, a junior journalism major, is the current president of Disabled Students in Action.  Not only did she grow the organization in the last year, she played a key role in supporting Disability Awareness Month programming in March. 
  • Seth Johnson, a senior journalism major, is a member of the Honors College.  Seth writes for the Ball State Daily News, the News Scholars program and a music blog. 
  • Patricia Kupchik, a senior special education major, will be student teaching next fall.  She is active with Disabled Students in Action, the Student Council for Exceptional Children, and the Faculty Mentorship Program.
  • Laura Walter, a senior political science major, serves as a resident assistant and a member of the Oxfam Club and Navigators College Ministry.  She has traveled to Bahrain and Honduras, and hopes to intern this summer in Washington, D.C.
At Ball State, which has an unparalleled commitment to students with disabilities, these young people have learned firsthand the importance of taking entrepreneurship and immersive learning to the next level.   I have great confidence that these students will succeed in finding meaningful and sustainable employment throughout their lives.  At the same time, I firmly believe they will be torchbearers in educating and engaging the communities in which we live and work about the economics of inclusion – and why it matters. 
Congratulations to the 2012 Fehribach Award winners!

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