DO-IT Pals: An Internet Community

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Scenes show someone typing on a computer and moving a mouse.
[Sheryl Burgstahler] What do you tell your friends?
A paper is graded... Girls dance around a young man... A couple holds hands.
Whether everything's going well or life is a mess, the first thing a lot of us do is check in with our friends. Sometimes the best way to do that is electronically.
[Karyn] I have friends from all over. And emailing them and keeping in touch with them, that's great. I like that.
[Lacey] The Internet opened up a new world because it gave me a way to talk with all my friends and family.
Someone types on a keyboard and a lap top computer is opened. DO-IT Pals: An Internet Community. Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.
[Sheryl] Hi, I'm Sheryl Burgstahler, Director of DO-IT at the University of Washington. I'm going to tell you about DO-IT Pals. If that description fits you, you'd make a great DO-IT Pal. Here's a little more about what that means.
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DO-IT Pals are interested in exploring careers in science, engineering, technology, business, and other challenging fields.
[Jessie] I'm interested in the space sciences and medical sciences.
[Justin] I'm interested in majoring in ecology.
[Blair] I'm thinking about majoring in computer science and programming.
[Sheryl] Your goals are supported when you're part of DO-IT Pals. You get information about college entrance requirements, application procedures, college survival skills, reasonable accommodations, internship opportunities, and resume and interviewing tips. You learn about resources that can help you make your career dreams a reality.
[Tracy] Like for me, I have a learning disability, so I can go on and ask other people questions that like how to find a job, how to talk to my boss about my learning disability, what college to go to, what would be good.
[Carson] They may have a career interest that's similar to yours and be able to give you advice or maybe even a job.
[Scott] And it's very interesting because I see something on the news or something I want to ask questions about, and you can just go online, email anybody, just the entire list, and we get Mentors, Scholars, everybody with different points of view, giving us feedback.
[Blanca] I've made some new friends, it's kind of fun, 'cause I'm kind of the only one in my school in a wheelchair...so...it's nice to know there are other people out there.
[Tressa] I'm for sure it will help me with my college plans because it will open a huge support group for me, I won't be nervous, I won't have to depend on my mom to get all the information for me and go and make sure it's all okay, I'll be able to do it all myself.
[Sheryl] Pals talk to mentors on-line.
[Annemarie] I'd like to discuss with those that have gone before, and have been through the college experience, have had to try and find a job, what worked best for them. And you can find people who have just about the same situation that you're in, and you don't necessarily have to talk to someone who's never experienced a physical disability.
[Senait] They encourage me to do things, like, things that people say you can't do, they encourage me, so that's been a lot of help.
[Kevin] Whenever they need help, I'm there.
[Sheryl] Mentors are college students, faculty, and other professionals. Many Mentors have disabilities themselves. Greg Smith, for example, has a mobility impairment and works at Microsoft.
[Greg] Getting the career you want, the prerequisite to that is thinking that you might be able to do it. And so just having someone who might be in a position that you think you might want to be in allows you to consider that possibility.
[Sheryl] Bridget's mentor, who has a hearing impairment, became a role model for her. He helped her picture her life as an adult, and offered ongoing encouragement.
[Bridget] Since I can't use the telephone, email is a valuable part of my life, and Ed and I email every once in a while to find out how the other person is doing. And he always seemed very concerned about how I was doing, and that made me feel like I had someone who cared about me, who really wanted to see me do well.
[Sheryl] Being a DO-IT Pal can even help you with school projects. You could fulfill those high school community service requirements. You might tutor a younger student, or you could give a presentation on the need for assistive technology in a computer lab. And DO-IT Mentors are there as your resources. DO-IT Pals can come from anywhere in the world, because most of what we do happens on the Internet.
[Skylar] Well, I email my friends from all over.
[Wesley] In Nebraska, all my friends are about a hundred or so miles away, and what I like to do is keep in touch, and those that have email, it's a lot easier, because you don't have to pay long distance phone charges.
[Ed] The Internet is kind of like a gateway for all of us to keep in touch with one another. It's also really fun because we can share things with more than one person at a time. And it's a great way to just check in with people at 3 o'clock in the morning, if you feel like it.
[Norma] Sometimes in the afternoon, in the morning, during the day, whatever, it's great to be able to talk with people. You know, I get to know more about other people, they get to know more about me, it's great, it's really fun.
[Sheryl] Of course, safety is a concern on the Internet these days. The discussion list for DO-IT Pals is closed to anyone other than participants in the program. This helps protect Pals from unwanted messages. And of course, DO-IT administrators oversee all the communication on the list.
[Doug] If there's issues around netiquette where somebody's saying something offensive to someone else, we'll do the direct contact to them and try to iron out issues.
[Sheryl] As a DO-IT Pal, you have a few responsibilities of your own. These are the things we expect: So that's it. DO-IT Pals is fun, it's easy, and it offers you a whole new group of friends and resources. Check us out. To apply, send email to: We look forward to hearing from you.