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Trent University Retirees Help Students with Disabilities

Former staff and faculty members volunteer to proctor exams in the Disability Services Office

Tuesday, April 20, 2004, Peterborough

More than 20 Trent University retirees are coming back to campus this month; to volunteer with the Disability Services Office (DSO) and the 247 special-needs students who are writing exams. 

With more than 800 exams in 218 courses to proctor - an increased number due to the double cohort - and following a suggestion from President Bonnie Patterson, the DSO looked to involve retired staff and faculty members, says Manager Eunice Lund-Lucas, adding the DSO received an overwhelmingly positive response.

The 21 volunteers, who participated in a March orientation session, proctor one exam each, which takes an average of three or four hours, between April 7 and 24. They meet the students, hand out the exams, stay with the students while they write, and finish up by collecting the exams and handing them in.

"Many of them have offered to take more than one shift, but we wanted to provide everyone with an opportunity," says Ms. Lund-Lucas. "We have had a wonderful response and the program is working really well; it's an appropriate way to celebrate National Volunteer Week - April 18 to 24."

Gloria Dunn, who worked as Trent's switchboard operator for 25 years and retired three years ago, proctored an exam on April 19. Ms. Dunn, who also volunteers at convocation, says she "jumped" at the opportunity to assist in the DSO.

"I love coming back here, and it's because of the people," she says.

Students with disabilities, who require accommodation to allow them to put forward their optimum performance, arrange to write their exams with the DSO. Most of these students require extra time or a distraction-reduced environment, explains Ms. Lund-Lucas. Together with the volunteers, and incredible support from faculty members, the work of the DSO is helping this particular group of students be academically successful.

The involvement of the volunteers is freeing up DSO staff members to be available to help students having difficulties, says Ms. Lund-Lucas, adding the end of term can be particularly problematic for students with disabilities. And meanwhile, the retirees take away with them, a sense of accomplishment.

"They are really enjoying reconnecting with Trent, and being with the students again," says Ms. Lund-Lucas. "They get a sense of feeling needed; and it's not just a sense, it's real."


For further information, please contact:

Eunice Lund-Lucas, Manager, Disability Services Office, Trent University, 748-1011, Ext. 1637


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Last Updated April 20, 2004