CeDAR helps students who need help

A blind student receives help from a tutor. Photo courtesy: FAMU CeDAR website

As exam week rapidly approaches at Florida A&M University, many students are facing feelings of anxiousness, worry and even fear.

With the anxiety over exams comes other struggles to juggle. For students battling different diseases, illnesses and ailments, exams bring on extra stress.

The Center for Disability Access and Resources, informally known as CeDAR, is a program on FAMU’s campus that allows students with documented disabilities the fair opportunity to get a college education. These disabilities can be, but not limited to mental, physical or emotional. The CeDAR office offers academic, housing and mobility benefits to students.

The biggest piece of CeDAR is the ability to give students the opportunity to access their accommodations, not just success.

CeDAR Assistant Director Anthony Wooten shared his thoughts on how students struggling with disabilities can lessen the stress during exam season.

“We want our students to know that we are here to help them not just during exam week, but during the whole semester,” Wooten said.

“In the CeDAR program we offer a wide variety of services to make sure our students are on track. We do mid-term check-ins, see where they are and what they need to help eliminate the stress off of our students.”

When asked why students are typically ashamed to be vocal about being CeDAR participants, or using their accommodations, Wooten shared two words:

“Our students.”

“In order for others to know about our program and what we offer, I think it starts by our students being vulnerable and telling people that they are CeDAR students,” Wooten said.

“I believe that there is a stigma placed on students who suffer with diseases to make them feel as though they are inferior to the rest of the student body.”

McKinley Wilson, a third year African-American studies student, shared how hard it can be as a full-time student while living with multiple sclerosis.

“Being that I was diagnosed in college, I found out about my disease later on,” Wilson said. “Since then, I have been learning to live with my disease, although sometimes it can be a struggle to do so.”

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s central nervous system. For Wilson, this disease has impacted his coordination, balance and cognitive thinking.

In order to be successful for exam season, Wilson has created a strategic plan to achieve success.

“I know exam week will be stressful, but in order to be successful, I make sure to write everything down in my planner. That way I will know when I need to get my assignments, tests and quizzes done,” Wilson said.

As a CeDAR participant, Wilson is appreciative for the resources provided to him.

“Without the CeDAR program, I don’t know where I would be,” Wilson said. “I would probably still be struggling trying to figure things out on my own.”

Aniyah Walden, a first-year pre-nursing student, says CeDAR has helped her to transition into becoming a full-time college student.

“As we all know, college can be a hard transition to say the least,” Walden said. “With the help of CeDAR, I have been able to create an individual plan to make the transition easier.”

Walden struggles with anxiety, and often gets overwhelmed with assignments as her major is quite demanding.

“I often feel over-stimulated when I am given assignments, because college is much different from high school,” Walden said. “Now, I have to not only juggle my assignments, but I have to also juggle my social life.”

Walden takes pride in being a CeDAR participant, and credits the program for allowing her to become a better student.

“I love how CeDAR shows that it’s OK to be different, but still gives us the same opportunities as the student body.”

To prepare for finals week, Walden plans to use her academic accommodations for extra time on her tests, assignments and quizzes.