Local student to attend UW DO-IT scholars program this month
July 3, 2012
By Katie Larsen
The University of Washington’s DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) program will host another round of scholars this month, including local teenager Grace Yukawa.
Yukawa has bilateral deafness. She will be a junior next year at Edmonds Woodway High School but lives in Newcastle. She attends the school because it has an extensive Deaf and Hard of Hearing program that is not offered in her local school district.
“The school allows me to attend mainstream classes with a large pool of available interpreters and note-takers if needed,” Yukawa said.
The DO-IT program offers high school students with disabilities an opportunity to experience college life by taking classes, living in the dorms, being mentored and networking with other students with disabilities. Yukawa learned about the program through some of her friends who went last year.
DO-IT focuses on math, science and technology fields and emphasizes the use of computers and Internet to enrich students’ education. Yukawa is interested in math and science and said the program would be a good fit for her.
To apply, she had to send a transcript to show her good grades, an essay about why she wanted to be part of the program and a letter of recommendation from a teacher. The DO-IT Advisory Board then selects scholars into the program.
“The board considers an applicant’s interest and aptitude in college studies, motivation to participate in DO-IT, contribution to the diversity of the program and perceived benefit from program offerings,” Brianna Blaser, counselor and coordinator of DO-IT, wrote in an email.
Approximately 40 students will participate in the summer study program as either scholars or interns. Phase 1 Scholars like Yukawa will spend two weeks living in the residence halls, participating in lectures and labs, and connecting with other students with disabilities.
Director Sheryl Burgstahler found the program in 1993. Since then, nearly 300 students have participated, Blaser said.
“The program is aimed to increase the success of people with disabilities in challenging academic programs and careers,” Blaser said. “Helping individuals with disabilities gain access to technology gives them tools that make them more likely to succeed both in school and in their careers.”
Yukawa said she hopes to experience what college is like and to gain more knowledge in different science and math fields, and computer technologies.
She said her disability is an everyday challenge because anytime she doesn’t have an interpreter, she struggles to communicate with others. Yukawa already utilizes some technology, such as texting on her cellphone and showing it to others to get her message across.
“I do things people don’t expect of a deaf person such as dancing, playing a musical instrument, learning a spoken foreign language and teaching a dance class for deaf students at Blue Dog Dance in Renton,” Yukawa said.
She said she doesn’t yet know what she wants to be when she’s older but becoming a pharmacist is a possibility.
Katie Larsen is an intern at The Issaquah Press.