Almost all students know what it’s like to scramble for textbooks and flip through chicken-scratched notes for class. Sometimes just traveling to class is hard enough, but for some students, time management is a necessity for securing a spot in the front of a classroom.
For others, timing is the biggest challenge when it comes to studying. Imagine spending at least four hours in a math lab, filing paperwork and taking tests to accommodate a learning disability.
City College provides resources and support to students who need specific help with their studies and academic goals, with helpers who assist students in overcoming learning disabilities.
With a collection of staff and student volunteers, the Disability Resource Center offers programs and services to City College students who struggle with their academic pursuits.
The DRC offers numerous services, including assisted computer technology, classroom aides, priority registration assistance and special parking.
For DRC Supervisor Anita Sanders, the center was a huge help when she was a student at City College from 1993 to 1995.
“I have a hearing impairment,” says Sanders. “I was so grateful for the assistance I received that I wanted to support other students.”
While a City College student, Sanders received accommodations for her schoolwork, including preferential seating and extended time testing, she says. She now works closely with the DRC’s program coordinator doing administrative work such as budget and program policy.
“Our goal here is to see that students are independent and advocating for themselves,” says Sanders.
Erik Garrett, instructional assistant at the DRC’s Assistive Technology Lab, says he believes that by understanding every student’s individual disability, others can help to accommodate that student’s needs. And that’s at least part of the reason why Garrett loves his jobs.
“I love people, especially people who have certain struggles that the majority of people on campus don’t,” says Garrett.
The DRC provides resources for some of those struggles, says DRC student personnel assistant Fong Vang.
Students with a short-term memory problem, for example, can use a Live Scribe Echo Pen, which, Fong says, allows students to write in a special notebook that records audio and instructs them on how it works.
“We’ve really come a long way in the breakdown of technology,” says Vang, “and we’ve given students a lot of independence.”
At the DRC, students learn and develop skills that may follow them into their careers and majors.
Michelle Johnson, an English major at City College, gets help from the DRC and also gives help to those she tutors. As part of her job, Johnson aids physical anthropology students at the Learning Resource Center and some of those students utilize the DRC as well.
“I really enjoy teaching,” says Johnson. “It’s my calling in life to help as many people as I can because I have my own struggles.”
Reggie Brown, criminal justice major and a clerk at the DRC, helps students request their accommodations.
Brown says he wished there had been someone to help him through his first semester. Now, Brown says, he helps out the DRC as a way to give back.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” he says with a smile.