The University Record, October 30, 2000

Arfa receives Neubacher Award

By Donna J. Kehoe
Human Resources/Affirmative Action

Rachel Meredith Arfa (B.A. ’00) recently received the James Neubacher Award by the Council for Disability Concerns. The award was instituted in 1990 as a memorial to Jim Neubacher, an alumnus who was a columnist for The Detroit Free Press and an advocate for people with disabilities.

The award was presented by President Emeritus James J. Duderstadt, who noted that “one of the extraordinary things this award ceremony does is to remind us how a special part of the University community is represented by those who face their own challenges, and convert those into remarkable opportunities for leadership and for service to the institution and to others.”

Arfa received the award in recognition of the significant contributions she has made on behalf of individuals with disabilities, particularly for her efforts that have dramatically improved the atmosphere for students with hearing impairments. As president of the Hearing Impaired Student Organization, she procured funding from the Michigan Student Assembly to support the “Open Caption Movie” project, which shows first-run movies captioned for individuals with hearing impairments. She also was instrumental in the implementation of a program to offer courses in American Sign Language and deaf culture as part of the undergraduate curriculum.

She was the driving force and coordinator of “And You Can Quote Me on That: Students With Disabilities at the University of Michigan,” a documentary video about the experiences of U-M students who have a wide variety of disabilities. Arfa also was instrumental in making the Center for Community Service accessible to students who use wheelchairs. She received the Outstanding Student Leader Award in 1999 and 2000.

Arfa noted that her career at Michigan was strengthened by the incredible support of many individuals, including Sue Deer, real-time caption transcriptionist; Joan E. Smith, resource provider and advocate; Pat McCune, program coordinator for Dialogues on Diversity; Royster Harper, interim vice president for student affairs; and Marilyn McKinney, undergraduate admissions officer.

“My experience at the University of Michigan truly gave me the space to be a student without barriers,” Arfa said. “I was able to take advantage of my environment rather than fighting just to have access to my education. Michigan has been a theater for technology, such as real-time captioning, the Open Captioning project, the Adaptive Technology Site and many other projects. My college experience truly shaped the rest of my life, and I will continue to be a trailblazer wherever I can.”

Appreciation Awards salute 14

Each October, the Council for Disability Concerns presents Certificates of Appreciation to acknowledge individuals affiliated with the University whose actions have significantly benefited people with disabilities at the University. This year’s recipients:

CDC Individual Awards

Hank Greenspan, lecturer, Residential College. Greenspan was instrumental in assisting with the creation of a new program, “Mentality,” which seeks to educate the community on issues facing people with psychiatric disabilities. His coursework incorporates relevant and related subjects, such as college-age mental health issues.

Nora Ellen Groce, associate professor of epidemiology and public health, Yale University. Groce, a U-M alumna, is a local, national and international expert in independent living and the deaf community, authoring academic and lay books, a family guide to recreational issues for children with disabilities, and a number of United Nations studies and position papers on the rights and needs of persons with disabilities in the developing world.

Tom Hoatlin, director of development, Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living (CIL). In addition to his development work at the Center, Hoatlin helps administer a joint federally funded grant between CIL and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). His own journey of healing following a spinal cord injury makes Hoatlin a strong provider of peer counseling and mentoring to individuals at PM&R with new spinal cord injuries and other neurological impairments.

Steve Laux, U-M B.S.E. and graduate student. Laux’s undergraduate work was interrupted by a spinal cord injury and intensive rehabilitation, but he returned to Michigan and resumed both his engineering course work and leadership through the College of Engineering’s Leadership Honor Society.

Karen Muraszko, chief, Pediatric Neurosurgery. Muraszko has aggressively pursued humanitarian activities, heading a neurosurgical team for medical missions to Guatemala. She has received the Presidential Award of the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and has been appointed to the National Advisory Board of the March of Dimes. She also served on a committee evaluating Medical School Admission Criteria for students with disabilities.

Sally Peters, LPN, Mott Children’s Hospital. Peters has worked at Mott more than 10 years, and has devoted additional personal time serving infants, children and adolescents with disabilities by accompanying them to various community events. She also uses vacation time to volunteer as a camp counselor at Trail’s Edge, an organization providing a group camping experience for ventilator-dependent youth.

CDC Team Award

Jayna Bajorek, Jene Janich and Kathleen Keeton, Financial Operations. These individuals were instrumental in the placement of a job applicant who has autism. Their individual and team efforts have exceeded their professional responsibilities and contributed to the success of this person’s employment.

CDC Family Award

The Samuel Bernstein family received a CDC Family Award for individual and joint efforts to benefit people with disabilities at the University.

Mark Bernstein, alumnus, contacted Services for Students with Disabilities on a regular basis while working at the University Activities Center to ensure that all events he arranged were accessible to deaf students.

Richard Bernstein, alumnus, served on the Disability Task Force and LS&A Student Government while an undergraduate student. He currently hosts a radio program in the Detroit area featuring people with disabilities.

Beth Bernstein, U-M undergraduate, volunteers as a note taker for deaf students.

Susan and Samuel Bernstein have funded several movies for deaf students, and continue to look for ways to assist students with disabilities. The family also funds a scholarship for students with disabilities.