Advice to New Scholars

The DO-IT Ambassadors

A primary role of DO-IT Ambassadors, who are young adults who were once DO-IT Scholars, is to share their experiences and advice with the younger Scholars. As an example, here is advice Ambassadors recently gave via electronic mail to the new Scholars as they prepared to attend their first Summer Study on the University of Washington campus.

Picture of Raleigh and Deke working a puzzle.
Scholars Raleigh and Deke solve a science puzzle.

Welcome aboard. Be ready for the best trip of your life. You'll gain new knowledge, skills, abilities, strategies, and friends. In planning your trip to Summer Study, bring along something that you would like to share with your peers. You all have special talents, skills, knowledge, abilities, interests, and hobbies. There will be opportunities to tell everyone something about what makes you who you are. The best things you can bring with you you can't pack in a suitcase — an open heart and mind and a winning attitude that will help you fully participate in the DO-IT experience. Yes, you will be the one that will make this a memorable time in your life by participation and sharing.
  • At Summer Study 2001 you need to be prepared to give it your all. As one who has gone through Phase I & II and been an Intern, I can tell you all from my own personal experience that these days will be some of the most memorable of your entire life. Every waking moment will be busy time and you will be awake more of the time that you are probably accustomed to.
  • Don't worry about going hungry, there will be lots of food around in-between meals — plenty of snacking stuff to keep your energy up. And yes, you will need lots of energy. The pace is in real time, just like it will be when you are in college. So if you are used to being a slow poke you are in for a big change in pace. Now that I have completed two years of university studies taking a full course load of sciences, I appreciate the reality check the Summer Study schedule gave me.
  • You might want to pack some of your favorite pictures and you may want to bring along an inexpensive camera to take pictures of your new friends to be able to show your friends and family when you return home from Summer Study. If you have a talent of any kind you may want to bring along your music, perhaps an instrument, your dancing shoes or whatever you need to be able to perform for your peers when the Scholars put on their own entertainment.
  • Everything is fun at Summer Study including all the things you will be learning. There will be binders for everyone, DO-IT shirts, and even book bags for those who need them to hang on their wheelchairs. There will be a wealth of information on all the things you need to know and more. These handouts are valuable because you can share the contents with your family, friends, and, yes, even your teachers. The great part is that you have a reference to refer to when you return home.
  • Some of you may have personal care attendants who will be assisting you as they always do and the great thing is that they will have just as much fun as you do. DO-IT is a very positive experience and it is expected that you will participate to the level of your fullest potential, using aides only when necessary. There is this thing called "learned helplessness." This occurs when you expect others to do things for you that you can easily do for yourself. If you are trying something new, try to do as much as you can and have your attendant assist you when you truly need the help. You will find that your peers won't tolerate or respect someone who does not even try to do as much as they can for themselves.
  • I feel that the DO-IT program is the same thing in my life as a single component is to a computer. Like a computer with all the different components that are wired together to shape a computer, we need different lessons, different challenges, and different experiences all linked together to make up our lives and who we basically are as people. Learn something different each day — at DO-IT Summer Study and for the rest of your life.
  • I have been involved with DO-IT since 1998 and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. You will find that after two weeks with some of the smartest people you'll ever meet you'll have friends for life. Everyone is there with the focused goal of making you succeed. In addition, I can say to the new Phase I Scholars that your group of Phase II Scholars is truly awesome and should be good mentors to you.
  • Learning to advocate for yourself is the most important lesson you will have to learn and it can be one of the toughest to learn because others who may mean well will interfere. Over time, you come to know the difference between what is possible and what is not possible for you to do. Others around you need to learn that too. They may not know if you do not tell them.
    Picture of Sheryl, Sarah, and Michael.
    Phase I Scholar Sarah with DO-IT staff Sheryl Burgstahler and Michael Richardson at Summer Study 2001.
  • DO-IT is a transition program that helps you learn the skills, knowledge, abilities, and human rights to take you from one level to the next level — in this case, from high school to postsecondary education. In high school, one is not yet an adult legally. However, as one enters postsecondary education one is at the point of becoming an adult in the full sense of the word, which means that you have the responsibilities of an adult. In assuming these responsibilities, there are so many things you will have to learn to do or advocate for help in getting them done. In this learning process, one has to recognize the resources or potential resources that will allow them to get things done. You are often your own very best resource if you prepare yourself well with all of the learning materials and experiences offered in the DO-IT program. Knowing yourself well is very important. There are many realities one must accept. Denial of potentials and of limitations puts you in a vulnerable position that could lead to unnecessary failure instead of success.
  • For all of you 2001 Phase I Scholars, welcome. You will have a blast at DO-IT. It is a lot of fun throughout the year when you are e-mailing and chatting with your DO-IT friends.