Dr. Luis Melara is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Shippensburg University. He has a Doctorate in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Rice University. Dr. Melara recently participated in a Question and Answer session with We Connect Now regarding his own experience in applying to college and as a professor working with college students with disabilities on his campus.
Q and A with Professor Luis Melara
What services were made available to you as a high school student to help you to succeed in, or prepare for, college?
My high school did not offer any services to help me succeed in, or prepare for college. I took AP courses and other college-bound courses to help me prepare. As a junior in high school, I visited the university campus I would eventually attend for college. This trip was coordinated with one of the counselors at my high school and an outreach student group at the university.
Do you think that these services were sufficient to prepare you for college?
The visit to the university motivated me to apply there for college. I found the college student tour guides to be very welcoming and I loved the campus. I was very happy when I learned I had been accepted.
Would you have added any other or different services from those made available to you?
I would have really benefited from counseling because the college application process was not known to me or my parents. I had plenty of questions about college which I found out mostly by reading brochures and conversations with my classmates, who seemed to know more than I did.
Did you receive any special trainings or seminars from your college to prepare you to teach students with disabilities?
What type of disabilities have you accommodated in your classroom while a professor?
Students with disabilities are registered with my institution’s Office of Disabilities. I am legally not privy to the types of disabilities students have. Faculty receive letters from Office of Disabilities informing us of students in our courses who are registered with their office and that they may approach us about taking exams at their office. I am not informed of the specific accommodations provided, however. I send a test to the office and then, it is returned to me, after the student has finished.
Do you personally know any professors with disabilities in your field, Mathematics?
Yes, I do.
How well-integrated in the classroom are students with disabilities that you have taught?
Students seem very well integrated. They attend classes like the rest of their classmates and the only difference is on exam days, when they take their tests in the Office of Disabilities. I’ve had students who are registered too but choose to take the tests with everyone else in class on exam days.
Are students with disabilities a group with a visible presence on your campus?
Unfortunately, I am unable to tell since the campus has many student groups and I am not familiar with all.