Disability Mentoring Day

Debra Zawada, DO-IT Staff
A student drops a chemical solution into a tiny beaker.

In January 2016, a group of students from the Seattle School District’s Interagency programs attended an exciting lab and informative talk by Dr. Vasudha Sundaravaradan, a scientist at the Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR). Vasudha also leads the BioQuest Academy, incorporating cutting edge research happening at CIDR into the curriculum. BioQuest Academy’s mission is to educate, train, and promote college-readiness in Washington teens, especially underrepresented groups, on the science of global infectious disease.

Following a tour of the facility led by an intern, a recent college graduate whose first exposure to CIDR was during high school, Interagency students shared some of their insights:

  • “Global health is important because we live in a connected world. “
  • “Disease has a big impact on our world.”
  • “Disease affects communities in many different ways, even economically.”
  • “It was interesting to see the configuration of the labs.”
  • “There is a freezer in the lab that is set at -76 degrees.”
  • “I was surprised at all the different and very expensive equipment we could see.”

Our intern and tour guide credits her participation in a two-week summer immersion program through BioQuest with opening her eyes to the possibility of becoming a scientist.

Participants engaged in a experiment that simulated killing bacteria. Working in pairs, they followed the protocol set up. Some students reported that this was the first time they were fully involved in a lab experiment. Their comments included

  • “Don’t give up if the experiment doesn’t work the first time.”
  • “Wow, the experimental process is very delicate.”
  • “If at first you don’t succeed, try again.”

Students participated in this activity through DO-IT’s and AccessSTEM’s support of Disability Mentoring Day, a nationwide effort to promote career development for students with disabilities through hands-on career exploration.