This is the personal statement that I submitted to Louisiana State University’s B.S. program in Learning Experience Design and Innovation. It’s here in case I need to use it again.
Let’s talk numbers. I understand that my college GPA is subpar, but I think that other numbers describe me better. I was the number one student of the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind’s graduating class of 2015. I am one of just 1,142 people internationally who holds the designation of Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. I got to those goals despite numbers like these: Intracranial arteriovenous malformations occur in less than 1% of the world’s population, and roughly 30% of that number are female. Fewer than 4% of people with arteriovenous malformation suffer hemorrhages and have strokes, but of those few people, 20-25% experience seizures, 20-30% experience permanent brain damage, and 15% may have difficulty with movement, speech, and vision. It is impossible to say with certainty how many young women are at the intersection of all of these numbers, but I am one of them.
My name is Meredith Boyce and I am an award-winning advocate for students with disabilities and for computer science education. My work developing a 1:1 technology program with my peers at the South Carolina School for the Blind sent me to the White House as a Champion of Change in 2015. Since then, I have become an advocate for disability and diversity in the tech talent pipeline. I’m proud to have won an award in 2019 from the United Nations Women and the Global Innovation Coalition for Change through the #SheInnovates campaign. I continue to work with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and with the non-profit CSforALL to develop inclusive programs and online learning initiatives to target and foster talent that will diversify the talent pipeline to include students with disabilities. I serve as a board member for CSforALL’s Accessibility Pledge and I have been featured twice by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls for this work.
Due to other extenuating financial and personal circumstances largely related to my disabilities, I was unable to finish my original bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Converse College. However, I believe that the B.S. in Learning Experience Design and Innovation from Louisiana State University Online will allow me to continue with my work and develop the skills I need to press forward to create change. It is the ideal program for me and what I aim to do. I want to take the new knowledge from your program to design curricula so that it will be inclusive for students with disabilities. In doing this, they can be educationally successful and change the world.
I think my prior experience in this field gives me an interesting perspective on the future of e-learning and the access needs of diverse learners. There are 7.6 million students with disabilities in the United States. Students with disabilities in higher education comprise only 19.4% of total students. If given the opportunity to attend your program, I will not only be able to add to those numbers, but be a step closer to my ultimate goal of supporting others like me to do the same.