A student with a learning disability walked into the office of Dana Lindsey.
“I don’t belong here,” she told Lindsey, a counseling specialist at Santa Fe College. “I can’t get this math. It’s just not for me.”
But with the help, support and comfort from Lindsey, family and friends, the student went on to graduate from Santa Fe and attend the University of South Florida.
She wanted to give up, but Lindsey said she took on the challenge.
“And regardless of that disability...she fought through it and believed enough to stay here,” she said.
Many disabled college students face similar issues and feelings, Lindsey said, who has been working as a counselor at Santa Fe for several years.
Today marks Disabilities Awareness Day at Santa Fe College, and both its Disabilities Resource Center and Office of Diversity are aiming to raise awareness by hosting activities in the Oak Grove from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The event is part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month — a nationwide campaign to address disability employment issues and recognize the contributions of America’s disabled workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Today’s event is open to all members of the community and will focus on hidden disabilities, Lindsey said. There will be hands-on activities to highlight the tools students with disabilities use to succeed, she said.
Earlier this year, UF broke ground on its 25th residence hall. Cypress Hall is being built with disabled students in mind and will feature 255 bed spaces, 35 of which will include lift systems to transport those with higher levels of disability.
Andy Alvarez, a Santa Fe zoology senior, said his sister had a brain tumor during his childhood, causing her to lose half of her body movement and requiring someone to monitor and assist her with day-to-day tasks such as walking.
“People need to be more aware of what’s happening around them because most people don’t see the disabilities that some people have because some disabilities ... can’t (be) seen with the naked eye,” Alvarez said. “People need to be educated.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 10/15/2014]