My Time with the DRC

Ever since the summer of 2017, I have been utilizing the services of the Disability Resource Center (DRC) on the UF campus.

I use it for a variety of things including test-taking services to accommodations during class.

It has truly been a lifesaver, and I wanted to share my experiences with using the DRC and offer some insight that I received from the DRC Director, Gerry Altamirano.

The mission of the DRC, according to Altamirano, “is to address barriers that students with disabilities experience in order to have an accessible and equitable collegiate so that students can show their brilliance and their content mastery in a way that’s accessible to how they learn.” 

Personally, however, the DRC is the reason that I’m able to succeed just like the rest of my friends and my peers.

I started utilizing the DRC after I had a horrible freshman Spring semester.

My underlying depression and anxiety started to take control over my life, and I ended up having to retake a couple of classes.

It was because of my Calculus 2 professor, Dr. Chui, that made me consider utilizing the DRC.

I had a mental breakdown over the phone with Dr. Chui when I realized I failed one of my classes just a mere three hours before a Calculus 2 exam.

She told me about how other students use the DRC on her exams, and suggested I use it when I retake her class.

After my breakdown, I went to the Counseling and Wellness Center, saw a therapist who referred me to a psychiatrist, who finally gave me a letter for the DRC.

Then after, I went in for an intake appointment with the DRC.

I met with a wonderful Learning Specialist, Jenna Gonzalez, who provided me with accommodations that I need to be successful just like my classmates. 

To be specific, the accommodations that I have encompass a few different areas.

I can request a notetaker for classes, record lectures, eat and drink during class, receive double time on exams while also being in a separate testing environment and I am given extra time to complete assignments.

The latter, however, is an example of how the DRC prevents people from abusing their accommodations.

I cannot have extra time on an assignment if the instructor gives a reasonable amount of time in the first place. 

This leads to me sometimes feeling guilty about using the DRC’s services.

Sometimes I feel the guilt because my classmates don’t have the same privileges I get through the DRC.

Sometimes I feel like I’m abusing these same privileges because it’s like a crutch, which invokes a little sense of imposter syndrome in me.

I feel like a fraud because sometimes my disabilities don’t hinder me.

However, I snap out of this when I realize that the accommodations I get are meant to support me so that I can be the same and shine in school just like the rest of my peers.

I will say one downside of having my accommodations is that sometimes I feel ashamed of having them because I don’t feel like I am a normal student.

In certain cases, I strive not to use my assignment accommodation if I don’t need to or try to do exams within the regular amount of time and avoid going into double time.

I want to feel as normal as possible in college, but my accommodations make me feel less than that sometimes. However, the equity provided by my accommodations outweighs this substantially. 

Whenever I talk about my disabilities and why my accommodations are necessary to my success, I am usually met with skepticism.

This is probably because with depression and anxiety, it sounds a lot like what able-bodied college students go through every day: high stress, panicking over exams, worry and more.

But what many of my peers and even some of my professors don’t understand is that my disabilities hinder my ability to function as a proper student sometimes.

I can’t even count on one hand how many times I have been judged for having accommodations from instructors. Thankfully I have the support of the DRC behind me to help me deal with it. 

Without the DRCI believe I would’ve dropped out or have been close to dropping out of college by now.

This center has provided me the support I have never had before to allow me to be successful in my studies and give me the proper college experience.

I have an equitable education because of the DRC and they have been an invaluable resource to me here at UF.

If you are wondering if you need or qualify for accommodations, it won’t hurt to contact the DRC and schedule an appointment. 

Altamirano gives the following advice to students who are wondering about getting DRC accommodations: “Students that experience any sort of barrier to learning, which impacts their success in their ability to really show their brilliance and their mastery of content, should come and seek resources because we provide holistic support based on the individual needs of the student. It doesn’t hurt to come in for an inquiry appointment and if we can’t help a student, then we can definitely refer them to another resource on campus.”

Disability Resource Center