Dept. 4298, 1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-5060
Toll Free: 1-888-989-9463
Fax: (307) 766-2763
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. View student profiles from the past years as well.
- 2014 Graduate-Kinesiology and Health Promotion
- Attending graduate school for Occupational Therapy at Creighton University
For her Disability Studies practicum experience, Rachel Knox shadowed two occupational therapists in Albany County School District. Here, Knox learned the value of a long-term one-on-one relationship with the families she served.
“I learned a lot about advocacy and the ethical sides of cultural acceptance,” said Knox. “The minor reinforced treating the students with dignity and respect.”
Knox’s interest in pediatric disability and brain injury grew throughout the minor and her practicum, experience. She plans to attend Creighton University of Occupational Therapy.
- 2015 Graduate-Elementary Education
- Plans to teach in Wyoming
Bethany Materi learned the value of a disability studies perspective while working in the classroom at the UW Lab School. An elementary education major, Materi’s practicum experience had her working closely with students with disabilities and thinking about inclusion.
“I originally wanted to be in special education, but now I want to stay in general education. I can bring those principles to a general classroom and help more students,” said Materi. “The disability studies background is so important for inclusion in the classroom because caring about students can make all the difference in the world.”
Upon graduation, Materi plans to teach in Wyoming, hopefully in Gillette.
- 2014 Graduate-Kinesiology
- Attending graduate school for physical therapy at University of St. Mary
Dannika West knew she wanted to be a physical therapist. Since she was 10 years old, West watched her cousin, who has cerebral palsy, receive physical therapy services. The minor and her practicum experience in a classroom setting showed West that there is no single approach to helping students with disabilities be successful.
“You can’t make the student fit the environment, but you make the environment fit the student,” said West. “The knowledge the minor gave me, like the concepts of normalcy and misfitting, are now the background of my personal and professional perspectives.”
- 2014 Graduate-Speech Language Pathology
- Occupational Therapy school
Carolyn Wallace explored several unique therapeutic approaches with her Disability Studies Minor practicum—hippotherapy with the Ark in Laramie and occupational therapy at the Laramie Care Center and Hospital.
“In all my settings, it was nice to see everyone work as a team. People stood up for their patients, and others really paid attention to their recommendations for the safety of the patients,” said Wallace. “I was happy I took many classes in the minor before my practicum so I could apply those theories to real life.”
- 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
- Teaching at preschool with plans to apply for a sign language program in Colorado
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-Speech Language Pathology
- Attending graduate school for rehabilitation counseling at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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.