May 29, 2014

News digest: Empowering blind students, personal stories of identity, pro staff nominations

Workshop connects blind undergraduates, STEM professionals
Blind college students will get a rare opportunity at the University of Washington next week to work alongside professionals in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, all of whom also are blind and are considered leaders in their respective fields.

The workshop, Empowering Blind Students in Science and Engineering, is the first of its kind at the UW and the only one in the country that brings together blind students and professionals for one-on-one mentoring and networking. The event June 2-3 is the brainchild of Richard Ladner, a UW professor of computer science and engineering who has worked for years in accessibility research.

The workshop will support 18 undergraduate students from around the country who are studying in STEM departments or want to work in a related field after graduation. The mentors are professors, engineers, scientists and program managers – some with doctoral degrees – who will work with students on strategies and motivations for succeeding in careers and workplaces where blind people are the minority.

“There are very few opportunities for blind students and mentors to get one-on-one time together,” said Ladner, adding that just a few mentoring sessions can make a difference for students.

UW Provost Ana Mari Cauce, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, State Rep. Reuven Carlyle and several local technical business leaders are expected to attend June 3. Interacting with the larger community is important for raising awareness of the contributions blind employees can make given the proper tools, organizers said.

The workshop is funded by the Fetzer Institute. Ed Lazowska, a UW professor of computer science and engineering, and Cynthia Bennett, research assistant with the department, helped organize the event.

Man stands in cap and gownNo Longer Invisible project celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage
To commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, UW students, staff and faculty are sharing their personal stories of identity in a project “No Longer Invisible: In Their Own Words.”

The project is meant to highlight the diversity in language, religion, culture and tradition of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Read the stories on the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity’s website. Or see them on display through June 4 at the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center.

A public reception from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, May 29 kicks off the exhibit.

The project is a collaboration between Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, the Asian Student Commission and the Asian Pacific Islander American Faculty & Staff Association.

Standing Ovation nominations due May 30
The Professional Staff Organization’s “Bob Roseth” Standing Ovation Awards acknowledge the service of outstanding members of the UW professional staff.

Nominations are being accepted until May 30 and can be submitted online. Winners will be celebrated at the organization’s end-of-year social 4 to 6 p.m. June 19, at the UW Club. The event will also include updates about the Professional Staff organization’s board elections, and food and refreshments will be served.