Why did I become a Mentor? For the obvious reason; since I'm disabled and have taken the science and engineering track myself, I could identify with what people in DO-IT wanted to do. DO-IT is an interesting idea and I wanted to see how it went, and maybe help people out here and there.
Since this is a portrait, I guess I should give some background. My disability is a profound hearing impairment. It was only "severe" in my teens, which meant I could at least appreciate some music back then; but I can still "remember" songs in my head (70's Pink Floyd pops up a lot). Anyways, I grew up and went to college and grad school in Connecticut and upstate New York. I'm now an assistant professor in computer science at Edinburgh.
Besides the fact that I've never met anyone in DO-IT personally, living in the U.K. is not very different from life in Seattle. E-mail and networked information is a big part of the day between people who work in the same building too. Still, it would be nice to be able to place faces with e-mail messages.
What are some positive and/or negative experiences I've had as a Mentor? All I can say is that it is a good experience to "be involved" and sometimes have some ideas or raw info to contribute. I can't think of any negative experiences, except, maybe, exploding mailboxes (figure that one out).
My name is Travis. I am from Monteview, Idaho. I am 17 years old and a senior at West Jefferson High School in Terreton. Like Rodney, I am a confessed computer addict. Right now I am writing programs in the C++ Language on the PC. My disability is several birth defects that I have: valgus of the ankles--they're weak so I have to wear braces; I have bladder and kidney problems that require me to take pills; and I have achondroplasia--which is shortness of the limbs. But, what's a disability? All I know is that I like computers and my car, a Cavalier Z-24 (black). I want to major in computer science and be a professional programmer or software engineer.
My primary disability is spina bifida. It is minor, but the secondary condition, scoliosis, has caused me to miss a lot of school due to surgery and hospital stays. My greatest scientific interest is genetics. I hope to receive a degree in molecular genetics and work for a bio-technology company. DO-IT has exposed me to a wide range of careers in science and given me the opportunity to experience first hand what it is like to be a scientist in some of those fields. On the Internet I have access to a whole world of people and information. This is an experience that I will appreciate for the rest of my life.