DARE TO DREAM: By Daniel Maya Ortiz
My name is Daniel Maya and I was born in Mexico City. I decided to come to this country because I realized that the opportunities that people with disabilities have to be successful are virtually endless. I suffer from a physical disability called Cerebral Palsy that has affected my ability to walk. Regardless of the physical limitations, my disability has also proven to be the greatest gift I could have received from God due to the unique experiences and people I have met along the way.
My journey has not always been an easy one. Since the time I arrived in this country, I have faced many challenges. I immediately had to learn a different language and adapt to a new cultural environment. I also needed to understand my educational opportunities as a disabled student. I quickly learned how to make valuable connections in every situation. Surrounding myself with the right people helped to ensure a successful path toward my future.
The decision to continue my education beyond high school has always been part of my plan. I set high standards for myself. Attending college has opened many new doors and has helped me to grow in ways I would have never imagined possible. One way that the college has helped me to be successful is by allowing me to make connections with people that truly care about the students they serve. These people have only one goal in mind, which is the success of the student.
The college experience has given me opportunities that I never dreamed were possible. I have had positive experiences participating in various clubs and organizations. These experiences gave me the courage to expand my horizons and to create the first club for students with disabilities within the college setting. The name of the club I founded is called “Dare to Dream”. One of the main goals of this club was to create opportunities for students with disabilities to get outside of their “comfort zone”. The club hosted activities such as social gatherings, fishing trips, movie nights, bowling, etc… with the purpose of helping students see past their disabilities.
The creation of this club has also given me the opportunity to be an advocate for disabled students by participating in an annual ‘Disability Awareness Day”. This event allows students, with and without disabilities, to experience what it is like to be a disabled student for a day. This has proven to be a life changing experience for many students who participate.
Last, but certainly not least, music has always been a major influence in my life. College has given me the opportunity to play percussion instruments in several performances with the Jazz band. For me, this was a dream come true.
All of the experiences I have described to you have created a strong interest for studying the field of communication, especially in the area of interpersonal communication. I have been a witness of the impact that communication has on people on my college campus and around the world. Communication is everywhere we go and a part of everything we do, hear, say, feel, etc…
Regardless of the message, one element of the communication process that fascinates me is the notion of perception. Each person has a unique frame of reference that can have great implications for the communication process. I believe that having an awareness of these perceptual differences caused by variances in culture, life experiences, etc… is the first step to improving communication effectiveness. As a curious student, I find myself asking the question “How can these different perceptions about life help people to be the best they can be?”
As you can see, attending college has changed my life. My message to you is simple. If I can do it, YOU can do it! Why not “dare to dream”?!
"The Next Step," video presents personal stories of five Texans with disabilities who enrolled in colleges, universities or technical schools.
Video courtesy of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities.
Download the "The Next Step" Video Guide
WEB RESOURCES - INFORMATIONAL
Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities - Article courtesy of the US Dept. Of Education
Getting into College: What Students with Disabilities Want to Know - Article courtesy of The George Washington State University
ADA Q & A: Section 504 and Higher Education - Article by Deborah Leuchovius, PACER ADA Specialist