Date of Award

8-2016

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Rehabilitation Counseling: M.S.

Department

Community Psychology, Counseling and Family Therapy

College

School of Health and Human Services

First Advisor

Dr. Amy Herbert-Knopf

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathryn E. Johnson

Third Advisor

Dr. William J. Lepkowski

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Social Perceptions, International Students Persons with DisabilitiesAbstract This research project measured the social perceptions of international students from Saint Cloud State University, (SCSU), a regional comprehensive university in the Midwest, as well as, non-international participants about persons with disabilities. Participants completed the four-hour “Embracing the Difference: The ABILITY Event” held by the Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Department at SCSU. The researcher used a pre and post-survey to determine the perceptions students and community members hold towards people with disabilities. The primary goal of this project was to evaluate if social perceptions changed by the international students, and in what areas. Areas assessed were work, relationships, and general communication. International participant responses were compared to those of the domestic participants. The “Embracing the Difference: The ABILITY Event” had two main components: 1) Experiential Learning Scenarios (ELS) which are hands on experiences facilitated by person(s) who live with the specific physical, emotional and/or mental inconveniences, and vendors in the field of disability, and 2) a Post-ELS "Panel, " lead by ELS facilitators. It was hypothesized that international students would show an increase in all areas of the post surveys. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that all participants would show an increase in their social perceptions of persons with physical, emotional and mental inconveniences. While not all areas of the post-survey were statistically significant, overall participants perceptions changed from a stereotypical stigma to a more positive view after participating in the "Embracing the Difference: The ABILITY event!"

Abstract

Abstract

This research project measured the social perceptions of international students from Saint Cloud State University, (SCSU), a regional comprehensive university in the Midwest, as well as, non-international participants about persons with disabilities. Participants completed the four-hour “Embracing the Difference: The ABILITY Event” held by the Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Department at SCSU. The researcher used a pre and post-survey to determine the perceptions students and community members hold towards people with disabilities. The primary goal of this project was to evaluate if social perceptions changed by the international students, and in what areas. Areas assessed were work, relationships, and general communication. International participant responses were compared to those of the domestic participants.

The “Embracing the Difference: The ABILITY Event” had two main components: 1) Experiential Learning Scenarios (ELS) which are hands on experiences facilitated by person(s) who live with the specific physical, emotional and/or mental inconveniences, and vendors in the field of disability, and 2) a Post-ELS "Panel," lead by ELS facilitators.

It was hypothesized that international students would show an increase in all areas of the post surveys. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that all participants would show an increase in their social perceptions of persons with physical, emotional and mental inconveniences. While not all areas of the post-survey were statistically significant, overall participants perceptions changed from a stereotypical stigma to a more positive view after participating in the "Embracing the Difference: The ABILITY event!"

Comments/Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

Thanking someone for making you do something you really didn’t want to do in the first place is extremely difficult. Especially, when you completed a master’s program, which did not need to include a thesis; it just ended up that way. Throughout my life, certainly the last 25 years, physical, mental and emotional challenges have come my way due to becoming a quadriplegic at the age of 15. Over the years, I have pushed, crawled, swam, shot and even puked my way to success, proving anyone with the focus can succeed at what they want in life.

August 22, 2014, a new challenge came my way: graduate school. Graduate school was never in the cards, as I had no interest, nor any reason to consider this. However, that was not the views of very close and dear friends. Before I go on with my thanks to these troublesome friends, it needs to be said that I would have never gotten to this area in my life without several key people. These include my family, Connie Cross and Michael McIntosh (mother and stepdad); Tom Cross and Jill Boitz (dad and stepmom); Jason Cross (brother); Shawn Woods (best friend); Mike Smith (confidant and friend). I cannot forget to mention the 375 students at St. Cloud Technical High School who, 25 years ago, at the ages of 15 and 16, stood by my side, fighting for their friend and his right to be a student. Also, Mike and Sandie Allen, two people, who although do not always agree with me, stand by me and are always there for support. And finally, Kristine Rauenhorst, in the beginning, you were my Vocational Counselor; now that it is over, I can say you are my colleague and friend.

I remember saying clearly to two of my dearest friends and colleagues, Katie Hartl and Annette Sobek, “I’ll I ever wanted is a house and a steady paycheck.” It is these two invaluable mentors I have to thank for my master’s degree and the distinguished honor of being a part of the St. Cloud State University community. Katie and Annette, you looked at me and said, “You can do this!” You also listened to me when I just needed to vent. You took it all in, you laughed at me, and then guided me back to sanity. Because of you two, I accepted the challenge of this degree. Thank you.

Finally, I need to thank four very special professors, Drs. Knopf, Kuhlman, Johnson and Lepkowski. My wheels were spinning many times. When there seemed to be no sign of traction, you gave me that traction I needed. At times you were on the receiving side of a great deal of hostility, yet you gave me a cup of coffee and asked, “Feel better now?” Normally, I said yes, but in all honesty, I was not okay but I was far better than I was a minute ago. All of you gave me experiences to which I use everyday in my profession. It is because of your guidance and belief in me graduating an impossible degree became reality.

Finally, at 41 years old, my life has been an amazing roller coaster ride that has happened because of others believing in me and showing me ways to overcome. To my cohort, Peter, Randi, Troy, Sarah, Stacy, Angela, Sam, Carl, to Rachel and all the wonderful people I have had the honor of meeting at SCSU. Thank you all for being supportive, honest friends. No piece of paper can ever give me more pride than everyone listed above; but it will seem very close at graduation.

To President Earl H. Potter, III, you will never truly understand the effect you made on my life, your leadership never went unnoticed and your vision, belief and unwavering support for the disabled community was far beyond the reaches of many; you are missed and your paths you created will be forever fortified.

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