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ACPA Award Puts Del Mar College Disability Services Specialist in Spotlight

Article by: Melinda Eddleman

Word from the American College Personnel Association’s (ACPA) Coalition of (Dis)Ability was emailed as follows: “We believe your work and advocacy for the disability community matches the values within the Disability Service Provider Award. Your work as a specialist at Del Mar College is truly admirable and deserving of reward!”

For Brenda Garcia, disability services specialist with the Del Mar College (DMC) Transition Center’s Disability Services Office (DSO), receiving notice that she was selected for the coalition’s national Disability Service Provider Award is a great honor.

“I’m deeply humbled, grateful and ecstatic about ACPA and the Coalition selecting me for this national award,” says Garcia, who has worked in the DSO for the past nine years. “My passion is being able to serve Del Mar College’s students every day, and I come to work to help each student reach their educational goals by providing them with the best appropriate accommodations so they have an opportunity to succeed regardless of their disability.”

The award, which ACPA will announce during their March conference in Columbus, Ohio, is given annually to an individual who is a disability service provider in a postsecondary education setting. The recipient promotes access and inclusion for people with disabilities by working to ensure equal access to curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular programs, activities and services.

The ACPA has inspired, helped and prepared generations of educators to advance their careers and contribute to student success since 1924. The association supports and fosters college student learning through the generation and dissemination of knowledge, which informs policies, practices and programs for student affairs professionals and the higher education community. ACPA membership includes nearly 6,500 individual members representing 1,200 private and public institutions from across the U.S. and around the world.

Dan Fischer, director of the Transition Center, noted Garcia’s efforts with the following nomination: 

“During Academic Year 2016, unforeseen employee turnover thrust Brenda into the lead provider role at a primarily Hispanic-serving 12,000 student-strong community college. As such, she served 56% (16% above her expected performance standard) of accommodation-seeking students enrolled in over 1,000 class sections while expertly managing a $200,000 sign language interpreter budget.

Additionally, armed with nearly 10 years of experience and expertise, Brenda singlehandedly tackled new hire training for one full-time and one part-time disability specialist, ensuring uniformity in policy and procedures as well as continued high quality customer service.

For a third consecutive year, Brenda also orchestrated a Disability Advocate of the Year event, which to date has recognized 19 student-nominated faculty and staff for their significant service, advocacy, support and commitment to the advancement of students with varying disabilities. 

Further, she partnered with crosstown disability services colleagues from Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi to cost share and co-host multiple professional development webinars to educate specialists from both campuses, thereby creating a foundation of collaboration, knowledge-sharing and professional friendship. 

Finally, ever-present, Brenda led outreach efforts both on and off campus resulting in a 39% increase in student accommodation service-seekers during the Fall 2016 semester—the highest single-semester accommodation request tally in the College’s 81-year history!”

Fischer says, “Clearly, Brenda’s efforts over the 16-month period exemplified the spirit of ACPA’s award, and the College is truly proud of Brenda and her work that this award recognizes.”

College statistics show that during Fall Semester 2016, 206 students requested disability-based accommodations. Of those 206 students, 177 were “for credit” course enrollees who earned a total of 1,030 credits, or an average 5.8 credits per student. These students also posted an average cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.65 (on a scale of 0.00 to 4.00). Statistics also show 46 of the 206 students enrolled in a total of 104 “not for credit” developmental classes last semester. Students earned a passing grade of A, B or C in 54 classes.

Learn more about Del Mar College’s Disabilities Services at

IN THE PHOTO: Brenda Garcia, disability services specialist at Del Mar College, was selected by the American College Personnel Association Coalition for (Dis)Ability for their national Disability Service Provider Award. 

About Del Mar College

Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.