Campus hires first full-time disability counselor

Disability counselor Teresa OBrien works with front office staff to ensure students get the resources they need on April 13.

Courtney Fong

Disability counselor Teresa O’Brien works with front office staff to ensure students get the resources they need on April 13.

Cosumnes River College has hired its first full-time disabilities counselor, Teresa O’Brien.

All other Los Rios campuses have full-time disabilities counselors and now CRC has joined by hiring a passionate Disability Support Programs and Services counselor.

“I love this job, I love the students and I feel so privileged to do what I get to do,” said O’Brien. “When the position came up I jumped at the chance to get to do this.”

O’Brien said she is super excited to be working with the students, and as a full-time counselor she offers a lot of availability to students.

“I’m here and I’m meeting with students everyday,” said O’Brien. “Basically what I kind of do is meet with the student and help come up with reasonable accommodations that they will use while they’re taking classes here.”

When she is meeting with students in the DSPS portables, she helps with many different types of accommodations for both students who are recently diagnosed or have been diagnosed for years.

“Some students may be newly diagnosed with a disability and some students have a history of using accommodations so we of course meet the students where they’re at in terms of any limitations so they can do their best,” said O’Brien.   

O’Brien also offers services to students for academic and support counseling.

“I also do academic counseling which includes doing ed plans and career planning so answering questions like what should your major be,” said O’Brien. “We do all that kind of counseling as well and then we do support counseling so if the student ever has an issue I hope to provide a place where there is always someone they could talk to and get some help.”

Aside for providing an environment of academic and mental support, O’Brien would like this environment to be easily accessed and being a full-time disabilities counselor allows it to happen.

“Having all these types of counsellings available is an attempt to increase availability and access and that’s something I’ve been trying to do to help any students’ needs,” said O’Brien. “If a student wants to meet with anyone in DSPS we want to help provide that quickly.”

Because a lot of students are using the program, having open availability is very important.

“A lot of students are benefiting from our services,” said Keith Ellis, a student personnel assistant. “Students are using our note-taking services and test-prepping services so it’s pretty great to see students getting help.”

The services provided aim to make things simpler and more helpful for students.

“I have arthritis in my right hand so I don’t write as fast but the DSPS program is extremely helpful,” said Justin Martinez, 25, a clinical psychologist major.

He also recommends the program to other students with disabilities because he believes they are doing great at meeting students needs.

“They make it easier to overcome obstacles and achieve a degree, I am very grateful to have a program such as this,” Martinez said.

Along with being CRC’s full-time disabilities counselor and offering her services and help to students, O’Brien also has some big goals for the future.

“In the future I would love to start a club for not just students with disabilities but maybe for disabilities awareness, a club where students with disabilities can get together and socialize,” said O’Brien. “I want them to have fun, and maybe help people who are interested in going into special ed. A club where we can all get together with shared interests and maybe provide something that is fun and supportive.”

Even though O’Brien has never worked at CRC before, she is bringing in her expertise from being a disabilities counselor at Sacramento City College.

“I have so many favorite parts of the job, to see so many students go on to successful career, to watch students transfer to University of California Berkeley or University of California Davis to any state school or get an AA and get a job,” said O’Brien. “I’ve seen so many success stories and it’s such a privilege to be part of helping a student get to their success, students are great it’s a ton of fun.”

O’Brien said she is extremely thrilled at this opportunity and absolutely loves it.

“Doing all this makes for a busy day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because that’s what it’s all about,” said O’Brien.