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Dept. 4298, 1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-5060
Toll Free: 1-888-989-9463
Fax: (307) 766-2763
Over the past five years, WIND’s academic unit, the Disability Studies Minor has grown from a fledgling enterprise to a robust and vibrant program. Each year, the minor continues to grow and attract students from a wide range of disciplines. Many of our graduates pursue graduate programs or work with individuals with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and families. The DS Minor has attracted many students from Health Sciences, Education, and Arts & Sciences, which has been a major goal over the past several years. At this point, the undergraduate minor is well established at the university. It complements many majors, and our students have become enthusiastic ambassadors of disability studies on campus. With these successes, we anticipate continued growth in the years to come, and hope to offer a wider variety of courses in the near future.
Read more about our featured graduates and current minor students to see how the minor has enhanced their studies, professional path, and personal experiences,
- 2014 Graduate-Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education
- Plans to teach
April Streff saw one of WIND’s disability infusion units in a class where the presenter mentioned the Minor in Disability Studies. “I was interested in diverse students and learning more about their lives to become more accommodating in my own classroom. The minor was complementary to what I was already learning,” said Streff.
In the minor, Streff completed her practicum at the Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie. “The Cathedral Home taught me a lot about inclusion in the classroom by being more integrated than a regular public school. I also learned about the emotional support side of teaching. For many kids, therapy is first, and school is second. I got better at listening and comforting students, and I learned about being accommodating in my own classroom.”
- 2014 Graduate-Elementary Education
- Plans to pursue a Special Education master’s at UW
Meghan Hill found out about the Disability Studies Minor before beginning her first class at UW at freshman orientation. Hill came to UW with a strong interest in disability; her dad was a special education teacher and she had experience working with people with disabilities in high school. The minor allowed Hill to continue exploration into disability studies.
During Hill’s practicum at the UW Lab School, she was an aid to a student with a disability. She was able to take part in the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and learn about the accommodations and process for providing supports for students with disabilities. “The UW Lab School is a great environment and very open to disability. They work hard to help dispel stereotypes. Students with disabilities are not treated differently, and I learned how to work with accommodations.”
- 2014 Graduate-Elementary Education
- Plans to explore American Sign Language (ASL) or counseling
Whitney Reese discovered the Minor in Disability Studies while taking WIND’s Gender and Disability course. The course resonated with Reese, so she signed up for Introduction to Disability Studies and the Minor. As an elementary education major, Reese could see the impact of her studies to the real world during her practicum experience at the Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie. In the classroom, Reese noted, “Everyone is not that different and bad behavior does not equal bad kids. I learned the importance of team building with peers and teachers. These strategies should be in every school.”
- 2014 graduate
- Plans to pursue a graduate degree in the disability field
Kelsie Edwards decided to change her major to Speech Language Pathology and to add the Disability Studies Minor after Dr. Jarman spoke in her Introduction to Health Sciences course. The talk sparked an interest in disability she never considered. “I didn’t realize all of the stigmas that people with disabilities face, and it opened my eyes to issues I had never seen before,” said Edwards.
Because of the minor, Edwards has fully embraced disability work as a future career path. Currently, Edwards is completing her practicum at Wyoming Governor’s Council for Developmental Disabilities, where she does writing, including an article in WyAbility, researches current disability issues, and helps organize workshops for self-advocates.
“During my practicum I learned it is possible to make a change, and it was nice to see the knowledge from my classes applied.”
Edwards plans to pursue a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling with hopes of working with transitioning high school students.
- 2013 Graduate-Gender and Women’s Studies
- Plans to fulfill ten months of service with City Year and then graduate school for Education, Social Work, or Counseling
Miller did his practicum at the UW Lab School. The practicum experience was so influential, Miller completely changed his future plans. He said, “I was originally planning on attending graduate school to receive an MA in Gender and Women's Studies. However being in the Lab School every day changed my career plans to City Year and to go into an education career. When I told Michelle, she was not at all surprised that I was following this path. I am now excited for my new plans to be a future education staff member, and I that hope to use inclusion and social justice in my career.”
- 2013 Graduate-Speech Language Pathology
- Attending graduate school in Speech Language Pathology in Boise, Idaho
Ashley Eller’s major in speech language pathology led her to taking classes in disability studies. “I took class as an elective, and I really enjoyed it. It fit so well, so I just kept taking classes!” For her practicum experience, Eller worked at Spring Wind, an adult care center in Laramie in the Memory Care Unit. “I shadowed many occupational and physically therapists and even took part in come evaluations. At first, I felt uncomfortable in the Memory Care Unit, but I learned that everyone is really the same, and I grew to love working there. As a speech language pathologist, your relationship and trust between you and the client is huge,” said Eller.
As a result of her practicum, Eller developed an interest in dementia and dementia care.
- 2012 graduate
- Attending The University of Nebraska Kearney for graduate studies in speech language pathology
Jordan Purdy saw Introduction to Disabilities Studies in the class registration booklet while looking for a diversity credit and immediately wanted to sign up for the course. Her advisor recommended that she focus on other areas instead. However, Purdy decided to take the intro course anyway—and she believes it was one of the best choices she made in her undergraduate coursework in speech pathology.
“I was immediately interested taking the course because I have two siblings with disabilities. Also, as a speech pathology student, I saw disability from a medical standpoint. The minor introduced me to more views, aspects, laws, and a wider look at the field,” said Purdy.
After the taking the intro course, Purdy enrolled in the full minor, which requires a practicum experience. Purdy’s practicum was at the Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie, Wyoming where she helped teach science to the special education class. The experience, she said, was great for learning to work with adolescents and younger children.
“The minor is great. The stories you hear in Michelle’s classes really change people’s attitudes. Lots of people sign up for the course to earn a diversity credit, and most end up surprised with everything they learn. The minor helped change my point of view and learn how large disability culture is. I feel as if now I can be a better advocate for my family and my future clients,” concluded Purdy.