DSPS Roadrunners Recognition Awards

The Disabled Student Programs and Services Department hosted their 2nd annual Roadrunner Recognition Awards. The director of  DSPS Mark Matsui explained that the awards were about recognizing the efforts of our faculty so every student can be just as successful.

Before awards were distributed, Luisa Mesones, a DSPS student, gave a powerful student remark. She explained how she became diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and stage one breast cancer shortly after. She declined medicine and began finding alternative treatments. She then decided to return to school where she later learned about the program. Thanks to the helpful insight from DSPS faculty, Luisa is now nearing the end of her journey at Rio Hondo and calls herself, “A Rio Hondo Scholar.”

The first Honoree of the afternoon was Theresa Freije, an English Professor at Rio who explained in her speech that she was, “Very dedicated and pleased to work with DSPS,” she added, “It has been the highlight of my career.”

Second was, Dianna Reyes, a Rio Alumni who became a counselor for the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services Department after working as a part time general counselor. Reyes spoke about her eagerness to learn more about DSPS students so that she could  better accommodate and assist them when they come to her. She ended her speech by reminding the students and staff that they can continue to count on her support.

The third honoree was Kevin Barman, a part of the Human Services Department who was unable to attend. Fourth was Kathy Gomez from the Reading Lab located in the Learning Resource Center building who was honored to receive an award.

The final honoree was Mary Becerril who, “came in 1985, a young mother of 2 boys,” and now has worked in the Admissions and Records office for 32 years who stated, “I love my job, how many people get to say they love what they do.”

The passion in helping the students was evident in the speeches delivered by the honorees.

Jacob Romero, a current Rio student gave another remark once the honorees had been acknowledged. Romero described himself as having a great work ethic, amazing communication skills, passion for serving others, and devotion as evidenced from his decision to take 15 units while holding the position of DSPS Student Council President. Showing that “despite challenges with disabilities anything can be accomplished.” He concluded his speech by stating his appreciation for the staff who continues to help and support students with disabilities.

Closing remarks were given by Bonnilee Kaufman, an LD specialist, who explained the Olympic theme of the awards. She explained the difficulties of college and how easy that makes it to give up. The faculty and staff who work in the DSPS program or work along with them are like coaches to the students.

“We are the olympic coaches and we are here to help make the playing field more equitable.”