Senior, Health Sciences Major

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I am a student who returned to finish my education after taking two decades off from my schooling to raise a family. It was a hard decision for me, not because I feared the work or being an older student, but because I am a survivor of childhood trauma and suffer from severe anxiety. My fears kept me in my house or only going to places that I was familiar with for several years, to the extent that I completed my undergraduate degree online, so stepping out into the world was a big challenge for me. Being a mother, I considered myself to be a person who fixed other people’s problems, but felt like I had to deal with my problems on my own and I wasn’t comfortable to expose what I felt was a weakness in needing help. I pushed myself to regularly attend classes and tried to participate in activities, but I was always on edge and felt very alone in my fears. I found that I had difficulty concentrating in class because every noise that I heard almost sent me into a panic attack. I would be in a room full of people but felt so alone. It was at the urging of one of my friends that I disclosed my concerns to the Dean of Academic Affairs, and he informed me that I could talk to the people at the Office of Disability Services. I was fearful at firsthand slightly embarrassed that I couldn’t handle this on my own, but I scheduled an appointment anyway and that was the beginning of my fresh start.


When I met with Ms. Leuthold at ODS she was so kind and I felt that she genuinely wanted to help me with the issues that were keeping me from being able to perform to the best of my abilities. Her office was a safe place where I could express my issues and concerns without ever feeling like I was being judged. She sat with me and listened to my concerns and then she made suggestions as to accommodations that I might be able to request that would give me tools to deal with the overwhelming anxiety and panic that I was facing when in my classes. After filing the required paperwork, she let me know in a few days that the accommodations were approved and that I was able to utilize them as needed. This made the rest of the semester and the following semester much less anxiety-producing and permitted me to focus on the information in my classes. Ms. Leuthold also checked in with me periodically to ensure that what we had in place was working or if any adjustments needed to be made. I had a request for another possible accommodation for my exam-taking, and she assisted me in getting that implemented as well.


Words can not express the gratitude that I have for the services that I have received from the ODS and the impact that the services have had on my being able to continue my education. It can be difficult to reach out and ask for help, believe me, I understand, but the people in the Office of DisabilityServices are truly invested in helping us as students to achieve our educational goals and the benefits of reaching out are so impactful that it can make the goal of getting an education seem like it is in reach instead of just a fantasy.