Just about everyone has hidden talents. Counselors at Southwestern College’s Disability Support Services (DSS) help students find theirs.
DSS students can often benefit from helpful accommodations like sign language, counseling, testing, note taking and test proctoring.
Proctoring offers extended test periods or a distraction-free room. Students with processing deficiencies or impairments use the proctoring services the most, according to DSS Director Helen Elias.
Carl Christian Barfield, 20, a music major diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, said he would not be able to finish a test without the proctoring services.
“I need the time to be able to second guess myself and answer the question correctly, and that usually isn’t provided in one class period,” he said.
Although budget cuts are spreading DSS thin, no student with a verified disability will be turned down, said Elias.
“We try to separate the worry from the students,” she said. “It’s the students’ job to go to class, use the accommodations and succeed.”
At the end of each year DSS personnel conducts outcome reviews measuring the average GPA of DSS students.
“Students with disabilities are doing as well as, if not better than the general population,” said Elias.
DSS faculty also provides help with clerical services for students from enrolling in classes to signing up for financial aid.
Accounting major Shawn Buckingham, 26, said he sees first-hand the effectiveness of the program.
“I feel quite accomplished working here, basically every staff member and student worker in here isa huge family,” he said. “It makes you feel really accomplished throughout the entire day and you feel like you have actually done something positive.”
This month the program hosted its annual graduation recognition reception where DSS students had a chance to thank everyone who helped make graduation possible. Elias said she enjoyed seeing students transfer to four-year universities.
“Those graduation receptions give me a tremendous amount of satisfaction because I get to see the students move on from here,” said Elias. “I love watching them receive their diplomas. That is the most satisfying feeling in the world.”
One of the graduates honored at the ceremony was English major Dametrius Bedgood, 21, who said he plans to transfer to UCSD to major in literature and to focus on a career in teaching.
“The DSS helped me in a number of ways,” he said. “They helped me focus better on classes, helped me on tests and helped me to become a better student because I am a student that needs more time than others on tests.”