Daemen College student Alecia Cultrara recently joined other advocates from across the country for the National Day of Action in Washington, D.C., to encourage support for the RISE Act, legislation that will help ease the transition to college for students with learning and other disabilities.
Cultrara, a social work major, participated in the advocacy efforts as a representative of Daemen’s student club called Eye to Eye, a national mentoring and advocacy organization run by and for people with learning differences. Day of Action 2019 was held in partnership with the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), which has led the effort to raise awareness of challenges facing college students with learning disabilities.
“Eye to Eye has given me many opportunities to advocate for individuals with learning disabilities,” said Cultrara, president of Daemen’s Eye to Eye organization. “The Day of Action was an empowering experience and allowed me to connect with others speaking up on behalf of students with disabilities to get support that will help them be successful in college.”
The national Eye to Eye organization focuses its efforts on a mentoring program, speakers, events, and other activities. Eye to Eye is described as a “welcoming hand, ushering students with learning and attention issues into a community where they are helped to move from self-doubt to empowerment by near-peers who face many of the same challenges themselves.”
Daemen’s Eye to Eye student group aims to make a difference in the lives of children with learning differences. According to NCLD, 2.4 million public school students have been identified with learning disabilities. To help local students, members of the Daemen Eye to Eye group take part in weekly mentoring sessions with Cleveland Hill Middle School students with learning differences.
“We use experience-based mentorship and art projects to teach students important life skills such as self-advocacy and strategies for learning success,” said Cultrara, who also serves as an Eye to Eye diplomat, a role model and speaker for the organization. “I encourage students with learning differences to advocate and seize the opportunity to share their story because it can have a great impact on others who are facing the same challenges.”
Daemen Eye to Eye is currently working on expanding its efforts on campus with additional activities that will raise awareness about learning differences.