By Edgar Lopez
Juan Espinoza dreamed of becoming an artist, and because of the Disabled Student Program and Services department the visually impaired student is now living that dream.
Espinoza’s success is not an isolated story. Wheelchair user Roger Hernandez always wanted to be a photographer and today, he owns his own studio blocks away from East Los Angeles College.
In order to spread the word and in observance of Disability Awareness Day, DSPS hosted an event providing insight for those with disabilities last Thursday afternoon. The event contained informational booths, raffles, food and music in the E1 student parking lot of ELAC.
“It’s an annual event that we have,” Grace Hernandez, DSPS coordinator, said. She said it is a day that agencies come in to help people with disabilities and for those people to discover resources in the community. She said even though the event was smaller than before, the DSPS center still wanted to host it, so they could supply others with information.
Former students that benefited from the program were present to support and inform, such as Espinoza and Roger Hernandez.
“I came for the school,” Roger Hernandez said. He wanted to attend the event to demonstrate to other students that disabled students can major in many other fields.
“Us disabled students can do other things than computer science. There’s so many different doors,” said Roger Hernandez. Roger Hernandez has been working at the studio for nearly three years and worked there for half a year before he took over. He has taken photos of many events and subjects, such as the Red Bull skateboarding competitions, political campaigns and groups in support of breast cancer awareness.
The event had around 15 booths from different agencies, former students and current students in the DSPS program. Grace Hernandez said that they needed little funding for the event, as the costs were not hefty. All booth participants, DSPS staff and students volunteered their time.
“We do our own funding. All our staff is very committed,” said Grace Hernandez. She said that They fund through events and sometimes resort to out-of-pocket expenses. Grace Hernandez also added that the DSPS center worked with the Financial Aid department, the Extended Opportunity Program and Services, the Veteran services and Health Center. Along with the ELAC booths, the Department of Rehab, Community Rehab Services, Axis Services and additional outside agencies participated.
The DSPS center is located in the west end of the E1 Student Services building in room 160 and can be reached at (323) 265-8787.