Ms. Dian Jenkins
Coordinator of Disability Services
She doesn’t want to let on that a particular student has a disability, so Ms. Dian Jenkins tries to stop herself from celebrating as her students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas at each Commencement. As the Coordinator of the Office of Disability Services at Fort Lewis College, Dian works with well over a hundred students each year and she’s proud of all of them.
“I see victory in every student who graduates,” she says. “I always feel like they should walk across and we should be handing them three diplomas because they cannot take anything for granted at all. They work at least three times harder than everyone else.”
Dian has dedicated her career to helping those with disabilities receive an education, but that wasn’t always the plan. In fact, as a girl she found herself intimidated by her father’s World War II buddies that were dealing with physical disabilities. However, after working for some years in manufacturing with a number of Deaf people, she felt the need to learn sign language.
She did learn sign language and went to work for the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind as a dorm supervisor for the four to six year old Deaf boys. After eight years there, she returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology/sociology and a master’s degree in Deaf education.
She took a job at Idaho State University as director of the ADA and Disability Resource Center, but she and her husband found themselves missing Colorado. So, as her daughter was graduating from Fort Lewis College, Dian took the job as coordinator of the Office of Disability Services in 2002. She never ceases to be amazed by the students that walk through her door.
Seeing how hard they have to work just to be ‘accepted’ in this every day, mainstream world. On top of that, fight for the rights of future people going down this way. I found exceptionality,” she says. Dian sees one of her main tasks as being a liaison of sorts between her students and the rest of the College. “If I can be that change agent or if I can be that catalyst to bridge the gap between the able-bodied world and the world of these exceptional people, that is in my heart.”