About Student Disability Services
The mission of the Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) is to offer students with disabilities equal access to all Lehman programs and activities in a climate that is welcoming and conducive to individual growth. Our philosophy promotes independence, self-awareness, self-determination, and self-advocacy, by way of the following objectives:
- To provide appropriate, reasonable accommodations and support services to students with disabilities.
- To provide resources, advocacy, collaborative services, and outreach throughout the Lehman College community.
- To promote an open and hospitable environment campus-wide for students with disabilities.
- To educate staff, faculty, and students on disability issues.
- To provide sensitivity workshops to increase success and achievement among students with disabilities.
In support of this mission, the SDS also provides referrals to both on-campus offices and outside agencies. On-campus offices include, but are not limited to, Academic Standards and Evaluation, the Career Services Center, the Counseling Center, and the Student Health Center.
Outside agencies include, but are not limited to, the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH), the CUNY Learning Disability (LD) Project at City College, Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR, formerly known as VESID) the International Center for the Disabled (ICD), and the New York State Readers Aid Program (NYSRAP).
Meet Our Staff
Merrill D. Parra, Director
Merrill D. Parra has worked in the field of higher education for more than thirty years. She currently serves as the director of both the Office of Student Disability Services and Veterans and Military Affairs, and is overseeing the revitalization of the current program for veterans at Lehman. Prior to coming to Lehman College, she served as the director of the national model Homebound Program (T.R.I.O.) at Queensboro Community College. As a pioneer in distance learning, Ms. Parra has worked closely with faculty to offer innovative methods of course delivery for students with disabilities who are unable to attend classes on a college campus. She has served on many committees at the local, state, and national levels and is well versed on issues confronting low-income and first-generation college students from diverse backgrounds. Ms. Parra is a grant writer, an educator, and an advocate for independent living, having served on the Board of Directors for the Queens Independent Living Center for fifteen years. She worked to establish a part-time T.A.P. program for students with disabilities, and served on N.Y.S.E.D.’s Task Force for the implementation of the e-text legislation (Chapter 219). Ms. Parra earned a bachelor’s in sociology from Queens College and a master's in social work from Columbia University.
Stephanie Arriola, Access and Technology Center (ATC) Manager
Stephanie Arriola comes to Lehman College from Teachers College, Columbia University where she was a disability services coordinator for three years. Stephanie earned a Bachelor’s degree in History and Italian from SUNY Binghamton. During her academic career at Binghamton University, Stephanie worked at the Office of International Programs as an Office Assistant for three years. Stephanie also studied abroad in Italy as an undergraduate student and became a peer advisor for students seeking to study abroad. Her passion in helping college students led her to pursue a career in higher education. Stephanie went on to receive two Master’s Degrees- one in Education Policy from Columbia University and another in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University.
Michael Rymer, Writing Specialist
Michael joins SDS and ATC lab as the Disabilities Writing Specialist after working for five years as a Learning Skills Specialist in Lehman's Instructional Support Services Program (ISSP), where he tutored graduate students in writing, created and taught literacy skills workshops, and helped train ISSP's staff of undergraduate tutors. He has also taught writing courses at SUNY Purchase College, Baruch College, SUNY Empire State College, and Yeshiva University. As a writer, Michael contributes frequently to the Village Voice, where he writes about higher education. Michael holds an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA in comparative literature from Brown University. He lives with his wife and daughter in Bedford Park, near Lehman's campus.
Lauren McCarthy, CUNY LEADS Counselor
Lauren McCarthy began working for the Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) in May 2011 as a LEADS counselor. The CUNY LEADS program is a partnership between the City University of New York (CUNY) and Vocational and Education Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID). As a LEADS counselor, Lauren assists students with career and academic guidance, and the necessary skills for job search and retention. Lauren received her bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a concentration in social work, from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. Lauren went on to receive her master’s degree in educational counseling from National University in San Diego, CA. Lauren has worked as a guidance assistant and a counselor for children with behavioral and emotional needs, teaching them social and academic skills. Ms. McCarthy looks forward to working with the students of Lehman College in the office of Student Disability Services.
Doreen Patrick, CUNY Office Assistant
Doreen Patrick began working as a CUNY Office Assistant for the Office of Student Disability Services in November 2006. Previously, she worked for the Payroll Office at Lehman College and after four years felt it was a time for change. Prior to coming to Lehman she had worked in the Nursing Department at Bronx Community College. She enjoys helping students by providing registration assistance, testing accommodations, and other services as needed. She also performs office duties. It brings her great joy to help others. She is inspired by people with disabilities, and they give her encouragement to continue her studies here at Lehman College. (She attended Baruch College in the past, earning twenty-five credits.) Ms. Patrick plans on majoring in either social work or health sciences.
John Figueroa, Access and Technology Assistant
John graduated from Lehman College in 2011 with a degree in Political Science. While John was a student at Lehman, he worked in the Library Special Collections. He also worked in the Library computer lab while he was an undergraduate student, which sparked his interested in learning about assistive technology softwares and programs. John now provides assistance to students with disabilities who utilize the Access and Technology Center located in the Lehman College library. John looks forward to working with Stephanie, the manager of the Access and Technology Center, and other disabled students as well.
Junette Cupid, Peer Educator
Junette Cupid is a junior at Lehman College pursuing a Bachelors degree in Nursing. After graduating she intends on traveling the United States as a Travel Nurse before pursuing her master’s degree in Nursing. As a Nurse Ms. Cupid would encounter many individuals with disabilities, the ability to understand and relate to them is the valued trait that leads her to being a Peer Educator within Student Disability Services. As a Peer of SDS Ms. Cupid takes pride in helping each student to the best of her abilities, and to solve issues that they may encounter.
Last modified: Jul 15, 2015