Graduate student Marina, a bilateral above knee amputee, uses assistive technology in her car which gives her independence to drive to school. After receiving her Master’s degree, Marina plans to apply to doctoral programs with hopes of getting a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Marina: I was always intrigued by psychology. I like learning about the human brain and then as I took more classes and also got into the research lab in my undergraduate years, that's what made me interested in the clinical aspect of it. I'd like to work at a hospital and work with different populations, so I just hope to solve problems in short.
I'm close to my professors personally, but I always have to talk to them about my concerns when I do apply to a program. Even though I'm not applying directly for a job, I'm applying to work with a faculty member at a doctoral program and sometimes there are biases that can hinder my application. So my mentors have told me ways in which I can talk about my physical disability and my application, but I have to be careful about what I reveal in case they think that I'm not capable or that they have to provide me with more services. My mentors did advise me not to ask for accommodations until I've been accepted into the program. I've heard people say, “Oh, it's easy to get accepted because you're a minority” or something like that. I don't like hearing that because I worked to get into the program. I wasn't just accepted based on my status. I'm lucky to have mentors and I think it's important to have a close relationship with people who can vouch for you.
DOR has supported me enough to go to a doctoral program. But I mean the fact that it doesn't cover or assist with doctoral applicants or doctoral people who want to achieve even higher education just shows it’s not as common. So maybe that's why people have a misunderstanding that people with disabilities don't go for higher education beyond graduate school or into graduate school. Even though DOR doesn’t offer financial support for graduate studies and doctoral programs I’ve still benefited from the program. I feel like DOR has been really helpful to me.
I think that anyone coming from a different background can help bring a unique perspective to both the scientific and academic and workforce in general. I guess they bring new ideas. That's why I've done a lot of advocacy work in the field just to show that people with disabilities may have different experiences or need help with certain things that doesn't mean they're not capable. It means that they can bring a lot of different things to the field. After I graduate that's when I'll have the real job—the career for the rest of my life kind of thing.