About Student Disability Services
The mission of the Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) is to offer students with disabilities equal access to all Lehman programs and activities in a climate that is welcoming and conducive to individual growth. Our philosophy promotes independence, self-awareness, self-determination, and self-advocacy, by way of the following objectives:
- To provide appropriate, reasonable accommodations and support services to students with disabilities.
- To provide resources, advocacy, collaborative services, and outreach throughout the Lehman College community.
- To promote an open and hospitable environment campus-wide for students with disabilities.
- To educate staff, faculty, and students on disability issues.
- To provide sensitivity workshops to increase success and achievement among students with disabilities.
In support of this mission, the SDS also provides referrals to both on-campus offices and outside agencies. On-campus offices include, but are not limited to, Academic Standards and Evaluation, the Career Services Center, the Counseling Center, and the Student Health Center.
Outside agencies include, but are not limited to, the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH), the CUNY Learning Disability (LD) Project at City College, Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR, formerly known as VESID) the International Center for the Disabled (ICD), and the New York State Readers Aid Program (NYSRAP).
Meet Our Staff
Merrill D. Parra, Director
Merrill D. Parra has worked in the field of higher education for more than thirty years. She currently serves as the director of both the Office of Student Disability Services and Veterans and Military Affairs, and is overseeing the revitalization of the current program for veterans at Lehman. Prior to coming to Lehman College, she served as the director of the national model Homebound Program (T.R.I.O.) at Queensboro Community College. As a pioneer in distance learning, Ms. Parra has worked closely with faculty to offer innovative methods of course delivery for students with disabilities who are unable to attend classes on a college campus. She has served on many committees at the local, state, and national levels and is well versed on issues confronting low-income and first-generation college students from diverse backgrounds. Ms. Parra is a grant writer, an educator, and an advocate for independent living, having served on the Board of Directors for the Queens Independent Living Center for fifteen years. She worked to establish a part-time T.A.P. program for students with disabilities, and served on N.Y.S.E.D.’s Task Force for the implementation of the e-text legislation (Chapter 219). Ms. Parra earned a bachelor’s in sociology from Queens College and a master's in social work from Columbia University.
Chandrika Surajpal, Assistant Director
Chandrika Surajpal comes to Lehman from Baruch College, where he was a project coordinator at the Computer Center for Visually Impaired People. In that role, he worked on two U.S. Department of Education research projects geared towards providing curricular access to students with disabilities. He also served as the center’s Marketing and Outreach Assistant, conducting outreach to New York City’s low-vision population and managing the center's braille production service. Chandrika, who grew up in the nearby Norwood section of the Bronx, holds a bachelor's degree from Fordham University and a master's degree in Higher Education Administration from Baruch College.
Lauren McCarthy, CUNY LEADS Counselor
Lauren McCarthy began working for the Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) in May 2011 as a LEADS counselor. The CUNY LEADS program is a partnership between the City University of New York (CUNY) and Vocational and Education Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID). As a LEADS counselor, Lauren assists students with career and academic guidance, and the necessary skills for job search and retention. Lauren received her bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a concentration in social work, from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. Lauren went on to receive her master’s degree in educational counseling from National University in San Diego, CA. Lauren has worked as a guidance assistant and a counselor for children with behavioral and emotional needs, teaching them social and academic skills. Ms. McCarthy looks forward to working with the students of Lehman College in the office of Student Disability Services.
Doreen Patrick, CUNY Office Assistant
Doreen Patrick began working as a CUNY Office Assistant for the Office of Student Disability Services in November 2006. Previously, she worked for the Payroll Office at Lehman College and after four years felt it was a time for change. Prior to coming to Lehman she had worked in the Nursing Department at Bronx Community College. She enjoys helping students by providing registration assistance, testing accommodations, and other services as needed. She also performs office duties. It brings her great joy to help others. She is inspired by people with disabilities, and they give her encouragement to continue her studies here at Lehman College. (She attended Baruch College in the past, earning twenty-five credits.) Ms. Patrick plans on majoring in either social work or health sciences.
Glendaly Rodriguez, Notetaker Coordinator
Glendaly Rodriguez graduated from Lehman College in 2010, with a degree in computer information systems. Ms. Rodriguez has been part of the staff at the Office of Student Disability Services since August 27, 2007, when she began as a Peer Educator. She is now the Notetaker Coordinator. She understands the commitment of the SDS office to its students and looks forward to lending a helping hand to them and her fellow staff members. Ms. Rodriguez is dedicated to her work at the Office of Student Disability Services. She is extremely family oriented and enjoys the company of friends and loved ones. As her Lehman College experience continues to become more exciting and challenging, and she looks forward to embracing every experience.
Junette Cupid, Peer Educator and Alternate Textbook Coordinator
Junette Cupid is a junior at Lehman College pursuing a Bachelors degree in Nursing. After graduating she intends on traveling the United States as a Travel Nurse before pursuing her master’s degree in Nursing. As a Nurse Ms. Cupid would encounter many individuals with disabilities, the ability to understand and relate to them is the valued trait that leads her to being a Peer Educator within Student Disability Services. As a Peer of SDS Ms. Cupid takes pride in helping each student to the best of her abilities, and to solve issues that they may encounter.
Ghislaine Gnoto, Peer Educator
Ghislaine Gnoto is in her junior year pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and a minor in Disability Studies. Her ultimate goal is to become a Family Practitioner Nurse following a year of experience working as a Registered Nurse. She believes that in order to be a good nurse and to give back, she needs to be exposed to people who are not necessary like her and who have different needs. That is why she chose to work at the Student Disability Services as a Peer Educator. Ms. Gnoto is very excited to work at the SDS and is looks forward to meeting and working with students.
Michael Rymer, Writing Specialist
Michael joins SDS as the Disabilities Writing Specialist after working for five years as a Learning Skills Specialist in Lehman's Instructional Support Services Program (ISSP), where he tutored graduate students in writing, created and taught literacy skills workshops, and helped train ISSP's staff of undergraduate tutors. He has also taught or tutored writing at SUNY Purchase College, Baruch College, SUNY Empire State College, and Yeshiva University. As a writer, Michael contributes frequently to the Village Voice, where he writes about higher education. Michael holds an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA in comparative literature from Brown University. He lives with his wife and daughter in Bedford Park, near Lehman's campus.
Last modified: Feb 4, 2014