Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Dianne Hengst aims to make disability part of nation's diversity discussion

Dianne Hengst

Dianne Hengst

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(Aug. 12, 2014) -- Third-generation San Antonian Dianne Hengst lived in a home that hosted international students from South Africa, Germany and Iceland. Her mother also cared for foster children, some of whom had disabilities.

As a child, Dianne never thought those children and teens were different. She just saw diversity, and she thought her family was cool.

"My family was accepting and inclusive," Hengst recalls, looking back on those good times.

It wasn't until years later, when she ventured outside San Antonio, that she realized her family, and her hometown, were unique.

"When I was growing up, San Antonio didn't seem to have the challenges with diversity that you saw in other parts of the country," Hengst recalls. "We were a diverse community, and we all just got along. In fact, it was more than that. We embraced our diversity."

As Hengst worked to earn her Ph.D. at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, a faculty member challenged her to advance the diversity discussion.

"I learned there was a space to teach others how to value and embrace diversity -- diversity that included disability."

Today, Hengst serves as the director of UTSA Student Disability Services. On paper, the office provides services to help students gain access so they can be successful. In reality, it does so much more.

Beyond meeting the immediate accommodation needs of students with disabilities, the Student Disability Services office works closely with Student Health Services and Counseling Services to provide comprehensive support to approximately 800 UTSA students with disabilities. Hengst says the three offices are a natural fit; they often end up seeing the same students and by working together, they're better able to help those Roadrunners navigate the challenges associated with their disabilities. Together, they have advocated for policy changes to support students with disabilities.

Some campuses say they value diversity, but Hengst says UTSA walks the walk. "It's owned here. And it's owned from the top down."

Despite the advances, though, there's still a lot of work to do. Many UTSA students have had such negative experiences leading up to UTSA that they're afraid to ask for help.

Hengst remembers one student in particular -- an international student who dreamed of becoming a scholar but stuttered. His disability would have barred him from graduate school in his home country. Filled with anguish, he lingered outside Student Disability Services for more than an hour before he gathered up the courage to go in and ask for help.

"Some people are afraid to talk about disabilities," she says. "In actuality, we should be scared to not talk about them. Shame and fear create a dynamic that pits people against each other."

As Hengst brings disability into the diversity discussion, she hopes UTSA will become a recognized model for other universities across the country. She wants people to understand that disabilities aren't weaknesses. Today, college students with disabilities compete under the same admissions requirements as other prospective students and they master the same curriculum. But they do these things while managing and overcoming their disabilities.

"Disability is an aspect of human experience that crosses all boundaries of race, class and gender, and it leaves a trail in all societies," says Hengst. "I see people with disabilities, perhaps more than any other group, possess attributes that help them adjust on a daily basis because they must think creatively about how to solve problems and accomplish tasks. Students with disabilities are one of UTSA's greatest assets."


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Oct. 14, 5:30 p.m.

Architecture as Rendered Society

The UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, in partnership with AIA San Antonio’s Latinos in Architecture, presents architect Andrés Jaque, founder of the Office for Political Innovation, an architectural practice dually based in New York and Madrid.
Buena Vista Building, Aula Canaria Lecture Hall (BV 1.328), Downtown Campus

Oct. 15, 6 p.m.

Take Back the Night 2015

The UTSA Women’s Studies Institute invites you to Take Back the Night, an international initiative to raise awareness and empower survivors while educating allies through a march, poetry, and testimonios. This is a gender-inclusive movement to shatter the silence surrounding sexual and domestic violence.
Sombrilla Plaza, Main Campus

Oct. 19, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

UTSA Grad Fest Fall 2015

Grad Fest is an event designed to prepare you for commencement while celebrating your achievement. You will have the opportunity to purchase commencement regalia, order class rings, diploma frames, explore graduate school opportunities, learn about successful Stafford loan repayment and discuss career outcomes.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Oct. 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

UTSA Grad Fest Fall 2015

Grad Fest is an event designed to prepare you for commencement while celebrating your achievement. You will have the opportunity to purchase commencement regalia, order class rings, diploma frames, explore graduate school opportunities, learn about successful Stafford loan repayment and discuss career outcomes.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Oct. 20-21, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

SECC Book Sale

Looking for a good read? Shop for yourself or for gifts and help change a life at the same time. Browse and buy children’s stories, novels and more at the 2015 SECC Book Sale.
Sombrilla Plaza, Main Campus

Oct. 21, 7-8:30 p.m.

Texas Water Symposium

The Texas Water Symposium will take a close look at the SAWS/Vista Ridge pipeline project. The program will feature a conversation about the regional, financial and ecological considerations of the 142-mile pipeline. The event is free and open to the public.
Main Building (MB 0.106), Main Campus

Oct. 22, 6 p.m.

Phi Kappa Phi Last Lecture

What would Dr. John Bartkowski say if it were his last lecture? The UTSA professor of sociology will speak about “The Power of Listening” in this annual event sponsored by the UTSA chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. A reception will follow.
Denman Room (UC 2.201.28), Main Campus

Oct. 27, 11:30 a.m.

Lecture by Composer Larry Groupe

The UTSA Music Department presents Emmy-award winning Composer Larry Groupe. Groupe has composed music for films such as "The Contender," "Straw Dogs" and "Miami Vice," and TV shows such as "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Ren and Stimpy" and "American Gladiators." Lecture is free and open to the public.
Arts Building (ART 2.03.15-18), Main Campus

Oct. 29, 5:30 p.m.

White Bound: Nationalists, Anti-Racists and the Shared Meanings of Race

The Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series continues with Dr. Matthew Hughey, a scholar of race, racism and racial inequality.
Buena Vista Building (BV 1.328), Downtown Campus

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Did You Know?

UTSA writes the book on all-digital libraries

As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.

At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.

Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.

With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.

Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA's Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

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