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A Capital Reunion 

M. Dolores Cimini and Dora under the White House seal. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 12, 2016) – Last week, M. Dolores Cimini, director of the Middle Earth Peer Assistance program, attended a White House function -- and not for the first time.

Cimini, a licensed psychologist, was in D.C. for the Champions of Change reunion of award winners. She won the award in 2012 for her dedication to making education in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields more accessible to students with disabilities.

In many ways Cimini is the change she wants to make in how society treats people with disabilities. She has been blind in one eye and visually impaired from glaucoma since the age of 16. Her high school guidance counselor didn’t think she would make it through college, despite her being on the honor roll. Cimini did not listen to her guidance counselor.

Instead, she went to Barnard, and later UAlbany, hiring readers in college to read textbook assignments to her at a time before speech recognition for computers was available.

She earned her Ph.D. in 1986 from UAlbany, and since that time has directed our campus’s programs to prevent substance abuse, suicide, sexual assault and eating disorders.

“As an American, I am proud that our nation’s leaders are focusing on the importance of providing access to STEM education for students with disabilities,” she said. “In addressing this critical national priority, we can open doors to opportunity for our young people with disabilities by better understanding the facilitators and barriers to STEM education, create mentoring opportunities and other support networks for our students, and build the infrastructures that will encourage students with disabilities in STEM to succeed.”

The reunion on Dec. 5 brought together an estimated 350 award winners and, due to the large number of participants, was held at the U.S. Department of Transportation main atrium. The next day, Cimini, with her guide dog Dora, attended a holiday open house at the White House, where she had the opportunity to mingle with the other Champion of Change award winners, take a tour and view the decorations.

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