Meramec students with disabilities are awarded academic honors to bring awareness
By: SPENCER GLEASON
Editor in Chief
STLCC-Meramec students, faculty and staff were treated to a theatrical performance, academic honors and professor acknowledgement for Meramec’s 23rd Disability Awareness Day on Friday, April 24. The campus’ Access Office and Focus on Ability Club collaborated to put the event together in the Meramec Theatre.
“I think it’s so important to educate the public,” Manager of Meramec’s Access Office Linda Nissenbaum said.
The day was highlighted by an awards ceremony, in which Meramec students who live with disabilities were honored for their academic achievements in the classroom.
Following the Spring 2014 semester, 77 percent of students living with disabilities across all STLCC campuses, had a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above. Of those students, 35 percent had a cumulative of 3.0 or above.
Those numbers rose after the Fall 2014 semester. Eighty-three percent had a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above and 36 percent had a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.
“We want to dispel this rumor that if you have a disability than you can’t succeed in college or in life,” Nissenbaum said. “For people to come up here and get awards for making good grades and meritorious effort — all of these different things that we give awards for, is to dispel the myth that because you have a disability, you can’t succeed. And we’ve proved that.”
In addition to the students, 18 faculty and staff members were recognized for their meritorious effort helping students with disabilities.
“Students have nominated these faculty and staff members because of the important impact that they have made on their education,” Access Office Specialist Jane Tucker said during her introduction. “Those recognized have provided extra encouragement and support to students to help them achieve their academic goals.”
Prior to the ceremony, Gale Rublee performed a one-woman show that she co-wrote along with a friend. In “When your mind betrays you,” Rublee shared her personal story of living with Bi-Polar Disorder.
She acted out one of her manic and depressed episodes, then portrayed “experts” who have helped her along the way.
“We always look for dynamic speakers to educate Meramec’s staff, faculty and students about living with disabilities,” Nissenbaum said. “We’ve had Heather Whitestone. She was the first deaf Miss America. We’ve had Josh Blue, from ‘The Last Comic Standing,’ (before he became famous). We’ve had multiple people over the years. We try to vary it, from year-to-year. I had several sources recommend (Rublee).”
In her play, Rublee shares what she has learned to do to manage her illness. Self-awareness, medication, counseling, trustworthy positive friends and family and finding what brings her joy and peace in her life all help bring order to living with bi-polar disorder.
“There is no simple, quick fix,” Rublee said. “But there is hope.”