As a follow-up to my last post, “Hearing the Voices of the Chronically Ill in Higher Education”, I’m sharing a recent weeklong series of posts about graduate students navigating graduate school with disabilities, courtesy of the website Inside Higher Ed, in collaboration with Grad Hacker.
I have included the list and links of posts here for reference and convenience:
April 20, 2014:You are we and we are not alone
The series opens with a post ensuring graduate students with disabilities that they are not alone.
April 21, 2014:Negotiating Grad School with Learning Disabilities and ADHD
This piece talks about issues of belonging and disclosure as they relate to learning disabilities in grad school.
April 22, 2014:On Being an Able Grad Student
This piece is from the perspective of an able grad student who has given a lot of thought to the ways in which college campuses can become more accessible to all.
April 23, 2014:On Chronic Illness, Disclosure and Imposter Syndrome
This piece talks about the challenges of not disclosing illness in the academy, and describes how those with chronic illnesses may feel that they don’t belong in graduate school.
April 24, 2014:Disability in Graduate School
This piece explores the potential advantages of having a disability in grad school.
I think it is terrific to see these issues are getting more press. I am especially glad that the emphasis is on graduate students and their personal experiences with disabilities into the graduate school arena.
However, you know me well enough by now to know that I rarely look at things uncritically.
As I said, I am very impressed to see these issues recognized. As I know from my own experiences, building awareness is an extremely slow and arduous process. However, I do think that this series is a bit predictable in covering these topics.
The focus is still very much on disabilities in the traditional sense of the word. And while they do make an effort to touch on the gamut – learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and chronic illness – it feels a bit superficial.
I would love a series that followed a graduate student with each of these issues for a significant length of time, or even simply a day-in-the-life type piece.
It’s important that we are able to hear a chorus of voices, which celebrates not only our differences, but also what we have in common.
As students who are “non-traditional”, we need to stand together. Graduate students with chronic illnesses and disabilities make up less than 5% of the overall student population, so their numbers may seem insignificant at individual colleges and universities.
However, there is power in numbers. We need to come together.
And while some people aren’t lucky enough to find others at their university who are going through similar issues – mainly for fear of retribution by the academy – the Internet and social media (including Facebook, Twitter, and blogs) have provided a great opportunity for us to find each other and share our experiences.