Creating community for people with disabilities

WSU pre-med senior stepped into leadership role to help welcome, advocate for group members

WSU+senior+Mikayla+Beckley+is+vice+president+of+the+Disabled+Students+and+Allies+Club.

COURTESY OF MIKAYLA BECKLEY

WSU senior Mikayla Beckley is vice president of the Disabled Students and Allies Club.

ANNIE HAGER, Evergreen reporter

It all started with a recruitment email from the WSU Access Center looking for students with leadership qualities.

Mikayla Beckley responded, and now is the vice president of the Disabled Students and Allies Club. The group focuses on creating an inclusive community for students with disabilities.

Beckley is a senior on a pre-med track, and she is majoring in genetics and cell biology with the goal of becoming a pediatrician. She transferred from Central Washington University after her freshman year.

“My heart always wanted to go to WSU,” Beckley said. “I moved to WSU because of that community.” 

Members in the DSAAC work to empower those with disabilities, as well as help them build confidence through different workshops and events, Beckley said.

The WSU Access Center provides accommodations and services to students with disabilities, whether psychological conditions, medical disabilities or temporary injuries.

“We partner with the access center to provide resources for people who don’t necessarily have access to [them],” Beckley said. 

Mikaela Thepvongsa is the Tri-Cities liaison officer working with the access coordinator. Her main job is to coordinate meetings and events with the other officers in the DSAAC. 

“As a deaf student, I have experienced numerous hardships and barriers when it comes to receiving adequate access to healthcare,” Thepvongsa wrote in an email. 

Many hospitals and clinics require to be contacted through a phone call for scheduling purposes. 

“This is something I have always struggled with since I cannot hear over the phone,” Thepvongsa wrote in an email. 

One of the most unique things about the DSAAC is that all students across the WSU system, both with and without disabilities, are encouraged to join, Beckley said. 

“I [wanted] to push myself in a leadership position to really fight and get rid of some of the stigmas behind disabilities,” Beckley said. 

She said she has learned so much about issues with different disabilities and the barriers to access resources. 

“I really want to start implementing action,” Beckley said. “[For example], hearing what students’ concerns are and really voicing that to the dean or the president so we can try to implement some of those changes.”

One of Beckley’s favorite memories as vice president is being welcomed in by the other officers with open arms, Beckley said.

“How open, kind and accepting everyone was is something that is really special to me,” she said. 

Beckley enjoys watching members of the organization advocate for themselves and seeing their confidence grow only seven weeks into the semester, she said.

Getting the club out there and giving it the attention that it deserves is something Beckley wants to continue to work towards, she said. The DSAAC strives to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all students in the WSU system.

“It has been amazing to see our community grow and how it transcended over the past few months,” Trepvongsa said.