The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
DSO Release 3.30
New Disabled Student Organization is making its mark
PEMBROKE, N.C. – When Daniel Young inquired during his freshman year about joining the Disabled Student Organization (DSO), he had no idea that he would become the founder of a new student organization at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Almost two years later, as secretary of the fledgling DSO, Young worries about planning fundraisers, leadership retreats and recruitment of new members. It was a lot of work, but Young said the new Zeta Chapter of the national service fraternity Delta Sigma Omicron is worthwhile in many ways. “From just a group of people, we have become a real club,” Young said. “I’ve worked my tail off because this organizations means a lot to me. I’m proud of what we have done.” A strapping 6-foot 3,Young is legally blind and has Tourette’s Syndrome. “Everybody’s different, and I am different,” he said. “No one understood my problems, or wanted to.” Young describes his high school days as difficult, but at UNCP things have turned around, even his grades. Now a “B” student, he is majoring in psychology with plans for graduate school and a career in counseling. “In college, the people are more mature and more understanding about disabilities,” Young said. “Everybody seems to like me here.” Young said UNCP’s Office of Accessiblity Resource Center (ARC) has been instrumental in his turnaround, providing support and assistive technology to help overcome his vision impairment. He uses computer software to enlarge text and to read text. He said going to a small university has been beneficial. “I met Mary Helen Walker (ARC Director) DURING MY CAMPUS VISIT, and that’s why I chose UNCP,” Young said. “The small classes and the one-on-one consultation with professors is what attracted me.” At UNCP and the new Disability Student Organization, Young found a place to make his mark. “Meeting new people and making friends is one of the benefits of the club,” he said. Club Treasurer Jessica Puckett said fun is a big part of the club. “A lot of people think the disabled don’t have fun, but we have a lot of fun in this club,” Puckett said. “These people are helping me get through college. It’s a big support group.” Puckett said networking about issues from health to financial aid has been crucial to her future. “I found out how to finance my college education by talking with other members of the club,” Puckett said. “I would not be here if it were not for this club.” DSO President-elect Maranda McQuage said the club is a personal growth experience. “We’re a very tight family, and we’ve all grown a lot,” McQuage said. “We are hoping to become a catalyst for larger discussions.” The club embraces a larger mission, and there is a lot of work to do. “We are about advocacy for the disabled,” Young said. “I’d like for us to get out into the community and into the schools. I’d like to talk to young disabled students and show them they can make it too, like we have.” The club also advocates for the disabled on campus. “We’re working on making the environment – the campus – accessible,” Young said. “Stairs are a real problem for me.”
Fundraising and membership recruitment are also important to the club, which has 17 members out of a disabled student population of 500 at UNCP. Young is eager to expand membership, but he understands why some students are reluctant. MEMBERSHIP IN THE DSO IS OPEN TO ALL STUDENTS WHO ARE INTERESTED. THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION IS FOUNDED UPON SERVICE TO OTHERS AND THE UNCP CHAPTER HAS DONE MAY PROJECTS THAT SERVE THE COMMUNITY.
“I’ve been putting up flyers everywhere, and we’ve got a new web site. I try to get the word out everywhere I can,” he said. “People know I’m disabled, but a lot of people do not like to admit their disability publicly.”
Overcoming barriers of all kinds for the disabled students – academic, social, health and physical - is what this club is about. Young sees a bright future for the Disabled Student Organization.
“We’ve done quite a bit in the short time,” he said. “It’s a great club that has great promise.”
Club advisor and ARC Director Mary Helen Walker agreed.
“Daniel has been great for our program, and I’m proud of him,” Walker said. “The club is very active, and right now they are planning a new member induction and a bake sale.”
For more information about our organization, or how to become a part of the Disabled Student Organization, please contact Acessibility Resource Center at 910.521.6695.