Completion of the annual report highlighted many successes for the Center for Persons with Disabilities. Associate director Cyndi Rowland said among the greatest achievements are the programs that give students hands-on experience and financial support. Last year alone, students received in excess of $350,000 in stipends, assistantships, honoraria and from payroll. Different programs allow students to work with professors who are top researchers in their fields and gain hands-on experience, while many also receive funding to do so. Since the CPD is the largest research center on campus at USU, many projects include student participation.
Rowland said the CPD has a rich history of supporting the academic, experiential and financial needs of students. Just last year there were 173 students who worked with the CPD and another 750 who received training and education from CPD staff. The different types of opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students, include internships, assistantships, hourly positions and stipends for research and education activities.
“Through our programs, we support and train tomorrow’s leaders in the disabilities field by providing unique interdisciplinary opportunities,” said Rowland. “The CPD draws from many departments you may not expect, such as computer science, instructional technology, engineering and landscape architecture.”
Aaron Anderson, an undergraduate computer science major, has been working as a software programmer for one of the projects at the CPD called WebAIM. This job gave him contacts and skills which will enable him to go to graduate school and have an emphasis in assistive technology — an opportunity he would not have had otherwise.
“Homework assignments are so different from real world situations,” said Anderson. “In class I learned how to program, but this job has taught me how to actually be a programmer.”
“I am trying to bridge the gap between disability research and computer science,” Anderson said. “All of us here are working together and meshing for the common goal of making life better for everyone.”
Edison Suasanvas, an undergraduate biotech major, also works at the CPD. He has been assisting as a note taker. Suasanvas is part of a project coordinated by J.C. Vazquez that focuses on improving communication with Latino families with disabilities.
“I didn’t realize how much help people with disabilities need,” said Suasanvas. “Going to the hospital and seeing people there made me realize that my problems are not as big as you think.”
“We have been doing this for 35 years,” Rowland said. “Every year it is exciting to present students from all walks of life with opportunities that will forever shape them.”
More information about the Center for Persons with Disabilities can be found online
. Employment opportunities are available through the student employment office.