By: C.A. PRINTUP
Director Anne Drake can relate to the students she works with on a daily basis at Disability Support Services. Drake is blind and has been for several years, but she doesn’t let that slow her down.
“You know, the term disability has a negative connotation to it,” Drake said as her guide dog Driver knocked his basket of tennis balls over in her office. “I personally don’t feel I’m disabled. I personally feel I’m inconvenienced. I can’t drive anymore and all that fun stuff, but I guess what I would really want people to know is same old thing, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” She smiled.
Drake graduated from Indiana University of South Bend in 2011 with her master’s degree in social work. After graduating from IUSB with a bachelor’s degree, Drake was struggling to find work, and so she decided to come back to school for a graduate degree.
And then she found a job, a job on campus to be exact. Drake was first hired as a disabilities specialist with Disability Support Services in January of 2009 and was later promoted to director when James Hasse retired on August 1, 2017.
Drake and her guide dog have often been regulars on campus. In a 2011 South Bend Tribune article, Drake’s then guide dog, Tabby, was jokingly referred to as the campus mascot, by then Secretary to the Associate Vice Chancellor Janet Kujawa. Today, Drake is often spotted around campus with her new guide dog, Driver. When they walk into many on-campus spaces, many of the staff recognize Driver on sight.
Drake does a lot of work on campus as director of disabilities. Not only does she help those who may have a visible or invisible disability navigate college, but she also helps run the Titans Feeding Titans food pantry with help from social work interns. She also helps those in housing get emotional support animals (ESAs).
“My main goal as director is to make sure that anyone that comes in with a disability learns how to advocate for themselves, speak up for themselves if they need to…to be able to navigate their way through college and the job that they want,” she said.
Those who didn’t necessarily come to IUSB with disability can still come and use the office’s resources, according to Drake.
“If a student thinks or they’ve suspected, or they feel like they’ve acquired a disability either physical or emotional as time has progressed, they can come here,” Drake said. “If they think they have a disability and have never really been diagnosed they can come in and we can refer them to outside resources to try to get a diagnosis.”
Overall, Drake is just another person trying to get by in the world, only just with a special helper. You can see Drake or just visit Driver at the Admin Building Room 170.