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Fall 2017 event recognizes faculty, staff for service to students with disabilities

| Vicky Thomas

The Services for Students with Disabilities office at UW-Eau Claire held a Faculty and Staff Recognition Reception Oct. 24 to honor staff members for their service to students with disabilities.

UW-Eau Claire student Christina Zaine read the national proclamation of Disability Awareness Month. Justin Vue, the second chair of the Equity in Student Matters Commission of the Student Senate, explained the commission’s history, purpose and mission to serve as a shared voice for students of marginalized identities. 

Eric Torres, education studies; Andrew Strowig, TRIO Student Support Services; and Colleen Marchwick, Cheryl Lochner-Wright, Jodi Simek, Shu Cheng, Catherine Lee, Jenna Krosch, Courtney Brost, Rachel Steuer and Jackson Schmidtke, Center for International Education, were recognized as university faculty and staff who demonstrate outstanding commitment to meeting students’ disability-related needs. Dr. Tamara Johnson, assistant chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, presented the awards.

Torres was nominated by an education major who shared, “Professor Torres is inclusive and makes students of all backgrounds feel comfortable in his class. He is a true warrior for all groups of people who face disadvantages in popular culture. Experiencing his class was very beneficial for a future teacher.” Colleagues and Dr. Carmen Manning, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, offered comments about  Torres’ valuable contributions to the education studies department and his support of international study. 

Strowig was nominated by a graduating senior who commented, “I cannot describe how helpful Andy has been throughout my time at UWEC. He has always been more than willing to schedule time with me to go over resumes, job opportunities, interview practice, and just catching up. He is truly passionate about helping students.” Strowig’s supervisor, Dr. Bruce Ouderkirk, affirmed this, saying that “throughout his career Andy has been especially dedicated to his work with students with disabilities.” Andy formerly worked in the office of Services for Students with Disabilities and while there contributed to the research for renewal of the TRIO federal grant, and created two scholarships in memory of his parents. Staff read the thank-you letter from the first scholarship recipient, which expressed the student’s appreciation as a person with autism and educational challenges: “I learned that with support and determination I could achieve my goals as a writer and encourage others with disabilities through my love of writing,” the student wrote.

Marchwick, Lochner-Wright, Simek, Cheng, Lee, Krosch, Brost, Steuer and Schmidtke were recognized as a department that has been especially collaborative in sharing their expertise with staff and students. Dr. Darrell Newton, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, commented, “This is a well-deserved recognition. The Center for International Education has long served students interested in becoming a part of our global community. Their efforts have always included students of every variety, including those with recognized disabilities.” The Center for International Education and Services for Students with Disabilities have strengthened their collaboration to increase the number of students with disabilities studying abroad, offering the Fleming Study Abroad Scholarship, and increasing individual assistance for accommodations for both UWEC students and international students. 

Kee Shen Yim, an international student from Malaysia, shared his experience of working with both offices to overcome the challenges he faced after experiencing a stroke. During his recovery he consistently worked with staff and faculty, utilizing accommodations and resources to achieve academic accomplishments. His genuine appreciation and inspirational story left a memorable impact on all attending the annual event.

Vicky Thomas, director of Services for Students with Disabilities, was joined by SSD staff members Katie Bublitz, Tyra Wendt, Katie Strope, Dan Zabel and Seth Carreno. The department is grateful to the many faculty and staff who make it possible for students to successfully graduate from UWEC.

Photo cutline: Faculty and staff honored at the Oct. 24 Faculty and Staff Recognition Reception hosted by the Services for Students with Disabilities office were (back row, from left): Andrew Strowig, Shu Cheng, Courtney Brost, Jenna Krosch, Cheryl Lochner-Wright and Eric Torres; and (front row, from left): Jodi Simek, Colleen Marchwick and Rachel Steuer. Also honored but not pictured were Catherine Lee and Jackson Schmidtke.