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Disability Resource Center Connects Honors Student to Success
“When I decided to come to NWACC, I had to decide whether I was going to tell anybody about my visual impairment or just try to rough through it. Once I got here, I found out that the Disability Resource Center was a blessing in disguise because the staff alone makes a difference in people's lives, not just the services that they offer,” said NWACC student Jerry McCoskey.
As a retired Air Force veteran and state park maintenance supervisor, Jerry recently decided to go back to school after 30 years. With his family’s support and a range of assistance offered through NWACC’s Disability Resource Center (DRC), his goal is to earn an associate of arts degree and transfer to a four-year university.
Jerry has diabetic retinopathy, a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes. It causes progressive damage to the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye.
“You have blurriness with the vision, you have black spots, you lose color, you can't recognize faces. Things that are at a distance don't even appear to be what they are. You have to ask somebody what is that, or you can't drive anymore,” Jerry explained.
The DRC offers eligible students a variety of academic accommodations such as special testing conditions, assistive technology, extended time for written assignments, acquisition of auxiliary aids, sign language interpreter services and more.
“The disability resource center has supplied me with software that I put on my computer that helps me with reading, helps me with seeing and blowing things up,” he said.
With the help of various academic accommodations, a visual disability hasn’t held Jerry back from excelling in his course work, joining the honors program and taking honors courses. He’s taken honors English and American history, and currently taking honors theater.
“I was told that there was a grade point average that had to be maintained, and that you had to take four honors classes while you're here in the program. I loved the challenge of that,” Jerry said.
As an honors program member, a student is required to take a number of honors classes throughout his or her time at NWACC. But, the honors courses aren’t only for program members. They are open to all students with a 3.5 GPA or who are interested in excelling in a certain subject. Classes can range from astronomy, biology, chemistry and history to communications, English and music. Many classes also include service learning projects.
Jerry has also enjoyed a number of perks as a honors program member such as priority class registration, access to the designated honors study area and will have his honors achievements shown on his transcripts.
“I see the honors program as a close-knit community of people who have the same educational goals,” he said. “The classes aren't any harder, they just expect more out of you and as an honors student, you should be willing to go the extra mile to obtain the knowledge that they're offering you. You’re no longer just scratching the surface; you're now digging a little deeper.”
Jerry doesn’t hesitate when it comes to encouraging other students to join the honors program or take honors courses.
“Since I’ve come to NWACC and joined honors, my thinking has moved from more than what's going on in my individual life to a broader picture about what's going on in the world around me,” he said. “If you want to challenge yourself, take honors classes... Don't be scared of it because, number one, you can do this, and number two, the instructors are going to help you.”
There's a place for you here.
Visit nwacc.edu or call 479-986-4000 to learn more about choosing a higher education with NWACC.
Also visit nwacc.edu/StudentSuccess to view the college's various resources that can help connect you to succeed in achieving your academic goals.