We had hard choices to make! We received many great applications and we are appreciative to all who submitted applications to our 2019 mini-Grant initiative. We’re proud to introduce you to those we will be supporting in their efforts to be more self-determined in the coming months.

Ricardo Rodriquez, Garwood, Texas

Ricardo RodriquezRicardo is a recent graduate of Rice High School and is attending their Step II Vocational Program. He and his team at Step II, including teacher Eunice McBeth, have been working to identify potential job opportunities for Ricardo in his small, rural, farming community. He has found that he enjoys detailing cars. He started detailing his school district’s cars, vans, trucks and buses at his high school last year and found that he both enjoys it and is good at it. He and his team have developed a plan for Ricardo to develop his own vehicle detailing business. This plan is building on Ricardo’s interests and skills. It also fulfills his desire to stay in his community where there are currently few available jobs. Thinking toward the future, they have already identified a former car wash that Ricardo would like to buy, reopen as his own and train students currently attending the program from which he just graduated. Ricardo has Spina Bifida and needs a specialized portable battery operated vacuum to be most efficient in his work. We’re happy to help you out with that Ricardo! We are also excited to watch your progress as you become even more self-determined and help more people learn about self-determination from your efforts and experience.

Yi-Fan Li, College Station, Texas

Yi Fan LiYi-Fan is a doctoral student at Texas A & M University in Special Education. She has a hearing disability and has learned that if she wants to be self-determined and successful, the first thing she needs to do is advocate for herself. For Yi-Fan, that means asking instructors to wear a frequency modulation device so that she can hear better in class. However, making these requests has not been easy for her. Even though she knows she needs to do it, it makes her uncomfortable to make special requests of faculty or for her peers to notice that she is receiving special accommodation. This led Yi-Fan to read research and learn more about the stigma students with disabilities in postsecondary education face when they request accommodations. Based on her experiences and what she found through her research, it led her to question if there might be a better way to help students with disabilities rather than providing individual accommodations for each student. She began to explore Universal Design for Learning. Universal Design as applied to learning and instruction is focused on enabling faculty and other college instructors to design and deliver their courses in ways that consider diverse learners so they can make learning accessible to a wide variety of students through their typical instruction. Yi-Fan has designed a study to learn more about the perceptions and attitudes of postsecondary students with disabilities toward universal design. Not only is she being self-determined in conducting the study, she is promoting self-determination for all students with disabilities by giving them a voice about the way instruction is provided to them. 2BSD is providing funding to increase participation in the study by postsecondary students with disabilities. We look forward to sharing Yi-Fan’s progress and study results with you. Stay tuned!

Sandra White and Sherrie Smith, Detroit, Michigan

Sandra White Sherrie SmithCreating food security and building community one garden at a time is the goal of Sherrie Smith and Sandra White. With the help of Focus Hope and volunteer advisor Dr. Felix Rogers, they are transforming the neighborhood in which they both grew up–a neighborhood which had fallen to disrepair–to a connected, vibrant community. They are establishing multiple urban gardens, including an educational and demonstration garden that they can use to help others learn how to build and maintain their own gardens. This instructional effort will be strengthened by the posting of instructional YouTube videos for their participants. They have initiated a weekly farmer’s market (entertainment included!) that has quickly become a neighborhood gathering spot. Sandra and Sherrie were both self-determined in the way that they established their goals. First, they assessed their unique strengths and interests as well as the needs of their community. They also identified their available resources. “Work with what you have” became a mantra. They put their knowledge into action as they established a plan to make a positive impact, with a focus on building food security and strengthening community ties. Their plan also involved continuing education for each of them. As they are putting their plan into action, they have been energized by the enthusiastic community response and are seeing even more possibilities for action and connection. On the day that we visited their gardens, an unknown gentleman driving down the street yelled to the two gardeners, “Thank you!!” Such enthusiasm and affirmation is bringing other people into their work and helping their own motivation to spiral upward. We are excited to support Sandra and Sherrie as they are expressing and building their self-determination in a way that will have many positive outcomes for them and their entire community.


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