DAS Student workers and staff listen to a presentation at the new Asian Pacific Cultural Center

Like so many offices at Oregon State University, Disability Access Services depends on its student workers. Students at DAS proctor exams, caption videos, create accessible class materials, and provide innumerable other services for students with disabilities.

Some students continue working at the DAS office for a short period of time, but others stay until they graduate, learning more about accommodations and accessibility.

Tristan Price has worked at DAS since spring 2013. He had been familiar with the DAS office before he started working here – it was one of the reasons that he had come to OSU in the first place.

“I came to OSU and the disability office offered me a ton of accommodations and was super helpful.”

He’d seen an advertisement for a “Technical Superhero” on Beaver Jobs, and had applied.

“At the interview it was ‘do you like Star Wars or Star Trek?’ and I was like, I should work here.”

Because I’m disabled myself, I thought it would be cool to actually work someplace that helps people like me, and not discriminate, which I have encountered several times.”

While some of the work he’s had to do over the past 2 years has been difficult, there were some projects that he really enjoyed, like getting to revamp all of the DAS publications.Samantha Olson & Tristan Price near McNary Hall

Samantha Olson started at DAS in her senior year at OSU.

“I needed a job. I was done with START and Leslie sent out an email about an opportunity for a job, so okay. I came in and Alanna interviewed me and I was like, we’re going to get along really well, and that was that.”

Another worker at the DAS office is Darien McGibbon. Darien has worked in Captioning Services and been trained as a test proctor during her year-and-a-half stint at DAS. Originally from Seattle, Darien visited OSU and fell in love.

“Everyone was so friendly and it was so beautiful in the fall, and I just felt right at home just from the beginning. I wanted to go to a PAC-12 school, and the campus just convinced me.”

Some students came to DAS a bit earlier. Bri Ivey and Erin Chapman both started working at DAS in the fall of 2011. Bri learned of the office through her brother, who was also a DAS student worker, while Erin applied and started working at the office during the fall of her freshman year.

All five will graduate from OSU this spring. They’re headed off to be teachers, lawyers, scientists, storytellers and more, and they’re taking the lessons they’ve learned at DAS with them.

As she finishes up her term of student teaching, Darien knows that her ability to adapt to new technology and software quickly will be very helpful, but it’s certainly not the only lesson she’s learned at DAS.

“Mine would be something that’s not really related to DAS specifics, but learning how to time manage during the day, because this was like my first on-campus job, so I had to learn how to time manage between the hours of eight to five with school and work, so sometimes I had to work early mornings, and that was really hard for me because I’m not a morning person, so it was hard for me to make it on time, but it’s helped me in the long run because now I have to be on time every day for teaching, like a real adult, so it’s a lot easier for me to wake up in the morning and be there, be present.”

Some of the lessons aren’t quite as straightforward, like the one that Samantha is taking away.

“I would say, something I learned was – I already had a ton of secretary skills, stuff like that, from working the front desk, but I think that I got really good at knowing when to ask for help when you need it. Because I don’t really like to do that very much, I just like to know everything and be really good at everything I do on the first try, and you can’t do that at this job, in any aspect of it because there’s so many special cases and so many different things going on all the time in the office that it’s important to know when to pass the torch to someone else.”

Erin and Bri have both been with the DAS office through several staff transitions, and have been heavily involved with training and providing lead work for new student employees. Bri knows that this experience will be useful in the future.

“Leading students and training students – I think that I’ll be able to carry those skills into a future job. And honestly, working with so many different types of people, I think that it gives you a perspective that other people might not have, so working with the different types of people, different cultures, I think that that would be applicable in my future jobs too.”

Bri Ivey, Erin Chapman & Darien McGibbon next to the Gymnastics BuildingErin focused on some other lessons she learned.

“I think the biggest one is being able to handle and give constructive criticism. That’s a big one and it can be difficult to hand out – people don’t receive it well, and vice versa, when you don’t receive it well.

“And I think a big one is being held accountable for what you’re working on and not pushing stuff aside just because you don’t know how to do it. And just, even for myself, but if I see that somebody else doesn’t know how to do it, I step up and help them.”

All of the graduating seniors, along with the other 30 to 35 student workers employed at DAS, got a chance to articulate their lessons at the Spring 2015 DAS All-Staff Meeting on Friday, June 5. Each term DAS staff and student workers gather participate in some professional development. They worked together to create useful phrases for cover letters and résumés that will allow them to communicate what they have learned at DAS to future employers.

And of course, what end-of-the-year meeting would be complete without sharing a meal? Especially since when asked what their favorite thing at DAS was, every student's answer included the office potlucks.


Story and Photos by Brianna McNall

Page Updated 05/2015