11 Apr 2016

From left to right, Luke Labas, Tanner Barton, Alex Gilland, Lauren Slaven, Sari Hammerstrom, Brad Millspaugh, and of course Mary Beth and Greg.

Ball State University hosted its annual Disability Services Awards on Tuesday, April 5th. This year, Mary Beth and I had the opportunity to present the Fehribach Award to six students with disabilities for their academic achievements and community involvement.

Through their varying experiences, these students have earned workplace skills that are not traditionally available to people with disabilities. The students are involved in a variety of jobs, community service, and extracurricular activities that afford the opportunity to learn new skills while educating their peers about the issues students with disabilities face.

In collaboration with Director Larry Markle and his team at the Office of Disability Services, Mary Beth and I are proud to introduce the 2016 Fehribach Award winners.

Tanner Barton, a senior, is completing his dual major of Health Sciences and Spanish. Tanner holds a 4.0 GPA and captains the Ball State swim team. A native of Dublin, OH, Tanner represented the male Mid-American Conference (MAC) student-athletes at the NCAA 2016 Leadership Summit. He is also an inaugural member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Tanner was the kick-off presenter at the 2015 World Diabetes Day in Denmark and co-editor of the College Diabetes Survival Guide.

Alex Gilland, a junior, recently joined a semester-long immersive learning project team at the Virginia Ball Center. Alex is a Telecommunications major with a 3.7 GPA from Osgood, IN. Alex was the first intern with a disability hosted at Emmis Communication through the Disability Project. He worked at Emmis during the summer of 2015. Alex is also a staff member at WCRD, Ball State’s radio station.

Sari Hammerstrom, a senior, is from Indianapolis. She is majoring in Communications Studies. Sari is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority. She is also the Sigma Chi Fraternity Female Ambassador, a role which she used to raise $1,000 for the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Sari has successfully completed four internships over her college career and ranks 4th in the state of Indiana for sales at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Her work on panels on disability education has helped better inform students about disabilities. Sari also worked in the Disability Services office. After graduation, Sari is moving to Denver, CO to work as a sales representative for dental equipment and technology.

Luke Labas, a junior, is a Political Science major from Fort Wayne, IN. Luke enjoys playing power soccer with the Turnstone Flyers in Fort Wayne. He also participates on his church’s leadership team. Luke has provided training to various hotels on accessibility issues. He was a participant at the Bowen Institute for Political Participation the weekend of April 2nd and 3rd. Luke is looking forward to interning at Eskenazi Health during the upcoming summer.

Brad Millspaugh, a senior, worked at General Motors in Muncie and Bowling Green, KY before enrolling at Ball State. Brad is an Industrial Technology major with a 3.4 GPA. He is from Muncie, IN. Brad placed first at the Computer Technology Annual Case Study Competition in Network Design and Implementation. Brad will be interning at Eskenazi Health this summer.

Lauren Slaven, a junior from Yorktown, IN, is a Geography major with a 4.0 GPA. She is Vice President for the Alliance for Disability Awareness (ADA). Lauren works at Ball State’s radio station, WCRD, as a weather forecaster and staff member. She is a member of the Disability Conversation Hour and Ball State’s Anthropomorphic Art Society. Lauren also sits on the Friends of the Yorktown Public Library Board as Vice President.

We congratulate these students for their accomplishments. It is encouraging to witness these students challenge the status quo and earn the income commensurate to their work when people with disabilities are paid sub-minimum wage. The students demonstrate that sustainable employment is a reality for students with disabilities, as their accolades as just as impressive as able-bodied graduates. By earning a living wage, these students will change the perception of people with disabilities in the workforce. We are proud that Ball State University continues to promote the philosophy of personal, social, and economic independence for all students.

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