DO-IT Receives National Mentoring Recognition

University of Washington Program Inducted into the Class of 2017 of the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame

DO-IT is a community of people with and without disabilities with a common goal of academic and career success for everyone regardless of disability. Picture, courtesy of DO-IT, is of the diverse DO-IT team, a group of individuals with and without disabilities standing, with 2 individuals kneeling, 3 individuals in power wheelchairs and 1 individual with a walker.

The (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center at the University of Washington is dedicated to empowering people with disabilities through technology and education. It promotes awareness and accessibility — in both the classroom and the workplace — to maximize the potential of individuals with disabilities and make our communities more vibrant, diverse, and inclusive.

With it’s long history of mentoring youth with disabilities, encouragement of others to replicate best practices, of results and methods, and the success of the many individuals who have participated in DO-IT activities, DO-IT is a globally recognized leader and among the first in the world to implement electronic mentoring to youth with disabilities.

DO-IT has now provided electronic and in-person mentoring to more than 2,000 individuals over 25 years in programs such as , , , , and

DO-IT has now provided electronic and in-person mentoring to more than 2,000 individuals over 25 years.

Below are a few statements submitted by DO-IT participants as part of the public nomination process for the Hall of Fame. These testimonials represent the over 2,000 individuals that have been part of the DO-IT impact.

First, from Chris, 2002 DO-IT Scholar and Mentor:

“I began my involvement with DO-IT as a high school student, where I met other individuals with disabilities already in STEM fields, and learned how to be a self-advocate while pursuing a college education and career. Thanks in large part to the programs through DO-IT, I’m a successful software engineer at Microsoft, and I’m able to mentor the next generation of students with disabilities.”

Next, from Jessie, a 1998 DO-IT Scholar and Mentor:

“I have been involved in the DO-IT program for over 10 years, as a scholar, student, mentor and technologist. As a Summer Study scholar, I was mentored by the phenomenal program staff and other students with disabilities who were pursuing college. A Summer study visit to the UW Virtual Reality lab, introduced me to an entirely new field and a researcher who I continued to work with throughout my undergraduate education. This was an incredible opportunity for a young college student. As I have transitioned into my professional career, I have stayed engaged in the program as informal mentor for students. I am frequently invited to speak on DO-IT career panels for students and educators. The mentoring I have received as a result of the DO-IT program and the great relationships I have built over the years have helped me immensely to pursue college, build confidence in my skills and abilities and explore various career paths. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities this program has created for myself and so many others.“

From Yomara, a 2008 Scholar and Mentor:

“DO-IT was vital in preparing me for my college experience, not only did it empower me with information but it also served as inspiration. I had been a bit clueless before DO-IT in terms of what my possibilities were after high school and I did not have any role models that had a disability like me. At DO-IT I met people who had learning and physical disabilities and they were always willing to answer questions and guide me in the process from high school to college. The DO-IT staff was also amazing at making me feel comfortable and safe advocating for myself when I had never been away from home at the age of 16.”

And from K, a 2013 Scholar, who is now a Mentor working in the DO-IT office:

From the moment I was selected to be a Scholar, DO-IT began changing my life for the better. That first summer I was surrounded by staff and interns ready to encourage me and start preparing me for college. Many of the interns themselves had just completed their first year of college, and were eager to pass on their experiences and mentor me. As I moved through the first two phases of the Scholars program and into the intern role, I became a mentor myself. I loved being able to help those that came after me achieve their goals; It was (and still is) really empowering. No matter how far you might be in your schooling or career, someone from DO-IT, whether it be another participant, or a staff member, is there to help cheer you on. They will help answer just about any question, and address any concerns you might have as you move forward in life. DO-IT’s staff members have been instrumental in pushing me outside of my comfort zone. They’ve helped me apply for new opportunities that I may have otherwise let pass. I have DO-IT to thank for where I am today, and I know they will continue to help me achieve my goals as I move through life.


The DO-IT impact is real for these four individuals and for the other 2,000 DO-IT participants. The National Disability Mentoring Coalition congratulates all DO-IT mentees, mentors and — including , DO-IT Founder and Director, and Scott Bellman, DO-IT Program Manager — for your induction into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. Thank you for leading the way and sharing what you have learned so others may follow!


Please visit the at the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame to learn more. We are also pleased to share the below UW-IT Stories article with permission from the University of Washington. Access the original .


DO-IT honored with national award for mentoring youth with disabilities

K Wheeler set four world records as part of the U.S. Paralympic National Swim Team before taking on a new challenge: a double major at the UW with the goal of law school. Ambitious, yes, but Wheeler hasn’t had to go solo: Mentors with the UW’s Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology (DO-IT) Center have supported Wheeler, as with other youth with disabilities, to achieve their full potential.

K Wheeler participated in the UW DO-IT Program Robotics. Photo courtesy of Karen Orders Photography

Thanks to its extensive mentoring programs, DO-IT is among this year’s recipients of the prestigious Susan M. Daniels Mentoring Hall of Fame award.

The national award, granted by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition, recognizes outstanding leaders that have demonstrated a commitment to mentoring and have shown a positive impact on improving the lives of people with disabilities. DO-IT has long supported people with disabilities through mentoring, and was among the first in the world to implement Internet-based mentoring for youth with disabilities. Those mentored through DO-IT programs often are inspired mentors themselves, including Wheeler.

“We are honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Sheryl Burgstahler, who founded and directs DO-IT. “Individuals with disabilities make our communities more vibrant, diverse and inclusive. We share this award with the mentors in our programs who serve as advocates, guides and role models for others. In many ways, DO-IT’s success can be measured by the impressive accomplishments of DO-IT participants over the years.”

“In many ways, DO-IT’s success can be measured by the impressive accomplishments of DO-IT participants over the years.” — Sheryl Burgstahler, DO-IT Founder and Director

DO-IT is a community of people with and without disabilities with a common goal of academic and career success for everyone regardless of disability.

DO-IT’s mentoring programs are geared toward high school and college students, who like Wheeler, plan to pursue challenging careers. Participants are mentored by other college students, faculty, engineers, scientists and other professionals, many of whom also have disabilities.

Wheeler became a mentor after participating in the DO-IT Scholars high school program. “I loved being able to help those that came after me achieve their goals; it was and still is really empowering,” wrote Wheeler. “I have DO-IT to thank for where I am today.”

DO-IT programs also include disability training for educators, employers and service providers. Its publications and best practices are disseminated worldwide.

The Hall of Fame award is named after longtime disability rights advocate Susan M. Daniels, who contracted polio as an infant. Daniels spent much of her early life in rehabilitation institutes and hospitals, yet kept up her studies and went on to earn a doctorate in psychology. She spent her internationally recognized career as a disabilities rights advocate in academia, government and as a private consultant.

Learn more about DO-IT’s on its website, and check out the new that delves into the Center’s history of helping to empower people with disabilities.


About the National Disability Mentoring Coalition: The mission of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) is to increase the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation. Member organizations share core values and align with the Coalition’s objectives to streamline communication, standardize and systematize data collection, reduce duplication of efforts, increase mentoring opportunities, and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities. Learn more about the NDMC, review its , and visit the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame at . You can also or email us at dshields@forwardworks.net.


This #DisabilityMentors publication is a space for individuals to share stories and testimonials to elevate the importance of establishing a national disability mentoring policy and increase funding to enable more mentors to raise expectations, build confidence and positively impact youth and adults with disabilities.


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The National Disability Mentoring Coalition publishes content to increase the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for youth and adults with disabilities.

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