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When I was a junior in high school, I got my first set of academic accommodations: my 504 plan. My Chronic Lyme disease got exceptionally bad and I was missing more and more school, but I was determined to not let my grades drop.  Fortunately, a friend of mine had a 504 plan, to help with her ADD, and she helped me get mine. These accommodations helped me get through the rest of high school. I was given extra time on assignments if I had to miss class and more time on tests for days when my brain just was not working. Without these accommodations I probably would not have graduated high school on time. So when I learned that 504 plans do not carry over in college, I panicked.

Luckily, my mom was super on top of things and researched accommodations at MC and that led us to the Disability Support Services, or DSS, at MC. The DSS are located at every campus and are open from 8:30 to 5 every weekday.

If you go to the MC website (http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/) and search for “Disability Support Services,” it will come up with all the information you need. However, I am going to give you the condensed, first-hand experience version.

There are a few things you need to get DSS, and they include: documentation of disability, an intake form, and a meeting with a DSS counselor. The document must come from a qualified person (aka a doctor,) in order to get the accommodations.  So, the first thing I did was contact my doctor and asked for a letter explaining just what Lyme disease does to me, and why I need the accommodations. Then, I filled out the super easy online intake form located here: http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/EDU/Department4.aspx?id=98415

My final step was to schedule an appointment with a DSS counselor, and I got Mr.Harry Zarin. Mr.Zarin was one of the reasons my transition to MC was so smooth. He sat and listened to my entire backstory, and having been sick for five years, it was a pretty long story to tell. He read over all my paperwork (besides the letter from my doctor, I brought my 504 plan from high school) and helped determine what accommodations I should receive. A few days later, I received an email saying I had been approved for DSS and could pick up my letters to give my teachers.

Now, each semester I just have to fill out the returning student form (http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/EDU/Department4.aspx?id=98416) and I get my accommodations for that semester. Then, on the first day of class I give my teacher my letter explaining what accommodations I get, and we figure it out from there.

These accommodations give me an equal chance to succeed at the rate of my peers. Disability Support Services are not just for Lyme disease, they are for any disability from ADD, to Asperger syndrome, to physical handicaps and anything in between. The Disability Support Services at MC allow all of us with disabilities to get the education we deserve. I highly recommend them to anyone in need of a little support!

Cassidy Colbert

I am a 19-year-old lifelong resident of Damascus, Maryland. I am in my 3rd semester as a part-time student at MC. I plan on getting my Associates Degree in the next couple of years and then transferring to the University of Maryland at the Universities at Shady Grove (health permitting).

MC has been my academic home for the past year and I could not be happier. I started off my collegiate experience at Salisbury University in the fall of 2015, but due to my Chronic Lyme Disease, I was forced to drop out. I thought my academic life was over, as I was too ill to handle a full course-load, but that is when I discovered the part-time option at MC. MC gave the choice to take as many, or as few classes as I wanted, and because of this, I am now back on track to getting my degree. MC also offered me disability support services to further assist me in accomplishing my dreams.

I hope that this blog can help other students like me to see that even though they may not be taking the “traditional” route towards higher education, MC offers load of opportunities that will get us where we want to go. Whether you aren’t sure where you want to end up in life, or have another obstacle, like a chronic illness or disability, you can still reach for the stars and accomplish anything they want to here at MC. 

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Cassidy, thanks for pointing out this service to students who are struggling one way or the other. We spoke about your situation and mine – that sometimes, maybe often, disabilities are not visible. People need to be educated, because when they don’t see it, it often gets mocked by those who see it as wanting a pass. Who hasn’t seen the car drive up with the handicap sticker and walk away from the car, only to have onlookers remark they are not ‘disabled’. No all disabilities are visible; thanks for highlighting this so people may think twice before making remarks and may seek the help they need.

    1. Thank you Jane! I hope that this can help others with invisible illness’s learn that they are not alone here at MC!

  2. This is a super necessary topic to discuss. Navigating disability support services can be intimidating. I’m so happy you made this post

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