STEM Group Broadens Participation for Students with Disabilities

Improving the success of students with disabilities in the STEM disciplines has been the goal of the UT-NIMBioS STEM Alliance. The group has been busy this fall with scholarships for its members, local local high school outreach, and professional development activities.

Seven UT students received scholarships to support their academic studies at UT.

Building on a successful visit to Knoxville’s L&N STEM Academy in the spring, students from the STEM Alliance paid another visit this fall. The informal Meet & Greet for high school students with disabilities was similar to one held in the spring when about 20 high schoolers attended with positive feedback from all involved. The UT students shared tips and resources based on their own experiences as students with disabilities in STEM majors on the UT campus.

The STEM Alliance typically meets bi-weekly throughout the semester. The group hosts discussions on professional development topics, such as careers, resume writing, mentorship, graduate schools and internships. Other informal gatherings throughout the semester provide a place for support and to share ideas and experiences.

This fall the group viewed a Peabody-award winning documentary on autism and inclusion called DEEJ about an American autistic activist and high school student David James Savarese. Savarese is nonspeaking and uses alternative and augmentative communication methods in his daily life as a student preparing for transition to higher education.

Other topics this fall included a session on art and disabilities with UT art professor Timothy Hiles and a session on handling stress with Billie Amatus-Salaam from UT Center for Health Education and Wellness.

For more information about the UT-NIMBioS STEM Alliance, visit its website.

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