DO-IT Profiles

DO-IT Mentor Profile

Picture of DO-IT Mentor Erich
DO-IT Mentor, Erich

by Erich Ho

I work as a volunteer at the UW Access Technology Lab. By profession, I am a system analyst. A system analyst is a person who designs software applications for specific uses. I have a mild case of Cerebral Palsy, which affects my speech and coordination.

I attended the University of Washington where I received my BA in Business Administration, with minors in Accounting and Information Systems. I interned at USWest™Communications (now known as Qwest™), where I designed a document locator program for the Corporate Tax Office.

Upon graduation, I worked as a software quality analyst at Intel™ Corporation a small company where they make CPUs and produce those cool Intel swirl logos that are on many computer cases. In this job, I designed and coded testing scripting to test our supply-chain application. I was promoted to team lead and was responsible for managing projects. After 4 years, I became a business system analyst, where I gathered user requirements and partnered with programmers to develop a technical solution for a corporate inventory application. I enjoyed this position because it allowed me to work directly with the users to determine their business needs and learn more about Intel's business.

After 6-1/2 years, I decided to leave Intel to move back closer to my family in Seattle. Since then, I have been looking for a job. In the meantime, I am taking some programming courses such as ASP™, C++™, and Java™ and volunteering at the Access Technology Lab.

I am 30 years old and single! My hobbies include reading, hanging out with friends, finance investing, and surfing the Net.

DO-IT Staff Profile

Picture of DO-IT Staff member Debra Zawada
DO-IT Staff member, Debra

by Debra Zawada

I have been working with DO-IT just a little over a month. I am excited to be working with such a talented and dynamic staff.

I grew up in suburban New Jersey, just west of Manhattan. During high school and the first years of college, I was a camp counselor for the Fresh Air Fund. The mission of the Fresh Air Fund, still to this day, is to provide summer experiences for urban kids outside of the city. I worked at Camp Hidden Valley, which was designed for children with disabilities. One of the unique aspects of this camp was to create the integration of able bodied kids and campers with physical disabilities in an accessible environment. The campers and other staff members were from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. I lived with people that were very different from me. This experience as a counselor was probably one of my most valuable to date. I still continue friendships that began at camp 30 years ago.

The majority of my professional history is as a special educator in the Seattle School District through a variety of positions: classroom teacher, transition coordinator, vocational counselor and consulting teacher, and over 20 years of hands-on experience assisting individuals with disabilities with reaching their goals. When I began as a transition coordinator, I only had my classroom experience. I knew how to break down and teach tasks and, on occasion, do crowd control. However, I had a lot to learn about supporting students transitioning to work or college. I owe a few of my students a great deal for showing me that there were many different ways to reach a goal. My way wasn't necessarily the only or the best way! These students were self-advocates before special educators borrowed the term. These students succeeded with their goals and I saw just how powerful a tool self-advocacy can be.

For the past several years, I have worked at Washington Research Institute on the Postsecondary Innovative Transition Technology Project (Post-ITT). Post-ITT consists of web-based resources and curriculum for students with disabilities planning on attending college. In this job, I learned more about transition issues and resources. We conducted staff training throughout Washington state. At these trainings, I came in contact with staff from a variety of districts—urban to rural and large to small. I was always excited to share our resources and eager to hear about the different challenges and successes of helping students reach their goals.

I am happy to be working with DO-IT and anticipate many learning opportunities in the months to come.