Student Organization is making its mark
By Scott Bigelow
DSO officers Maranda McQuage and Jessica Puckett
During his freshman
year, Daniel Young tried to join a club that did not exist. So, he rolled
up his sleeves and started a new chapter of the Disabled Student Organization
(DSO) at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
As the founder of
UNCP's Disabled Student Organization and its secretary, the sophomore
from Dunn, N.C., is busy planning fundraisers, a leadership retreat
and membership recruitment. Starting the club was a lot of work, but
Young said the new student organization is here to stay.
DSO made its mark
on campus this spring by winning the Homecoming spirit contest for the
best float in the parade. It was a coming out party for the new club.
a group of people, we have become a real club," Young said. "I've
worked my tail off because this organization means a lot to me. I'm
proud of what we've done."
DSO's mission is
to advocate for the disabled on campus and off. And, it is a support
group for its members like Daniel.
A strapping 6-foot
3,Young is legally blind and has Tourette's syndrome. He described his
high school experience as difficult, sometimes troubled.
At UNCP, Young turned
himself around, even his grades. Now a "B" student, he is
majoring in psychology with plans for graduate school and a career in
different, and I am different," he said. "In high school,
no one understood my problems or wanted to."
the people are more mature and more understanding about disabilities,"
Young said. "Everybody seems to like me here."
Young said there
is considerable support available for disabled students. He credits
UNCP's Office of Disability Support Services (DSS)
as instrumental in his turnaround. DSS provided counseling and assistive
technology to help overcome his vision impairment.
Young uses advanced
computer software to enlarge text and to provide audio versions of text.
Young said a small university setting is beneficial.
"I met (DSS
Director) Mary Helen Walker during my campus visit, and that's why I
chose UNCP," Young said. "The classes are small, and there
is one-on-one consultation with professors."
With support from
DSS and the new Disabled Student Organization, Young found a place to
make his mark and new friends.
people and making friends is one of the benefits of the club,"
he said. "I'm pretty good at that, so I am going to be publicity
chairman next year."
Jessica Puckett said fun is an important part of the club but not the
"A lot of
people think the disabled don't have fun, but we have a lot of fun in
this club," Puckett said. "It's a big support group. These
people are helping me get through college."
Puckett said networking
with club members about issues from health care to financial aid was
instrumental in her success in college.
"One of the
things I learned talking with other members of the club is how to finance
my college education," Puckett said. "I would not be here
if it were not for this club."
Maranda McQuage said the club is a personal growth experience and more.
"We're a very
tight family, and we've all grown a lot," McQuage said. "We
are hoping to become a catalyst for larger discussions."
The club embraces
a larger and very ambitious mission, Young said.
"We are about
advocacy for the disabled," he said. "I'd like for us to get
out into the community and into the schools. I'd like to talk to young
disabled students and show them they can make it too, like we have."
The club is also
working on its mission to advocate for the disabled on campus.
to make the environment - the campus - accessible," Young said.
"Stairs are a real problem for me if they are not marked."
membership recruitment are also important to the club, which has 17
members out of a disabled student population of approximately 500 at
UNCP. Young is eager to expand membership, but he understands why some
students are reluctant to join.
putting up flyers everywhere, and we've got a new web site (www.uncp.edu/dss/links/dso),"
he said. "People know I'm disabled, but a lot of people do not
like to admit their disability publicly."
Membership in DSO is open to all students, not just the disabled. Young
is optimistic about the future of the Disabled Student Organization.
quite a bit in a short time," he said. "It's a great club
that has great promise."
Club advisor and
DSS Director Mary Helen Walker believes the club plays an important
role on campus, and she said Young played an important role in founding
been great for our program, and I'm proud of him," Walker said.
"The club is very active. Right now, they are planning a bake sale,
a new member induction and a leadership retreat at Carowinds."
For more information about Disability Support Services at UNCP, or about
the Zeta Chapter of the national service fraternity Delta Sigma Omicron
(Disabled Student Organization), please contact DSS
at 910.521.6695, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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