As director of Student Disability Services, I oversee the management of the department, facilitating a departmental culture of shared responsibility, collaborative decision-making, and a strong dedication to access and equity. As a civil rights issue, disability is a university-wide responsibility and I am committed to collaboration with the larger university community on the removal of physical, academic, and social barriers that prevent those with disabilities from fully participating in, and benefiting from, the opportunities available to those who are non-disabled.
I have worked in disability in higher education for 22 years. My professional philosophy is informed by this quote from Nelson Mandela – “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
In addition to working for access at Ole Miss, I am also committed to community, state, and national disability advocacy. I am the founder and past president of the Mississippi Association on Higher Education and recently retired as the long-time chair of the City of Oxford’s Mayor’s Commission on Disability. I served as an advisory board member for the federally-funded organization, Disability Rights Mississippi, which advocates for the legal rights of people with disabilities in the state of Mississippi. I am also certified by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to teach Family to Family classes and facilitate care giver support groups.
Originally from Crested Butte, Colorado, I came to Ole Miss in 1987 to finish my undergraduate degree and fell in love with the university and the Oxford community. Both of my now adult off-spring graduated from Ole Miss and I am currently working on my doctorate degree in Higher Education.
When I am not working, you can find me with my face in a book, surrounded by three cats and an 18 year old, mostly blind, mostly deaf, five pound, love-bug of a dog named Zorro.
As the Assistant Director in the office of Student Disability Services, I have the opportunity to work with students, faculty, and staff to provide access to the programs and services offered at The University of Mississippi. I am also responsible for coordinating and providing interpreting services and captioning services for students who are d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing. I have been an interpreter for the past 14 years.
I joined Ole Miss in 2010 as a freelance interpreter for Student Disability Services (SDS). I have served in various positions within SDS for the past eight years, and have loved every minute of it!
I earned two degrees from Ole Miss and am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Teacher Education – Special Education. My areas of interest include literacy instruction for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children, bilingual education, and disability in higher education.
I am a native of Tupelo, Mississippi (Go Waves!). I am married to Kurt Smith, also an Ole Miss graduate and Project Coordinator for the Office of Global Engagement. We have a small farm in between Yocona and Toccopola.
When I am not working in SDS, I work as an adjunct instructor of ASL in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Outside of the daily grind of being an adult, I can be found at home with Kurt and our menagerie of animals.
Access Services Coordinator and Interpreter
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” quoted by Helen Keller, is the bold statement I choose to live by. As a firm believer in community and team approaches, I am honored to be a part of Student Disability Services. As the Access Services Coordinator/Interpreter, my responsibilities include working with students, faculty, sign language interpreters, and more to ensure access to information is available, accommodations are being met, and cultural differences are respected.
In 2000, I became a nationally certified sign language interpreter and have been professionally interpreting for 20 years in a variety of settings, including higher education. After realizing I wanted to become more involved with my community and offer myself as a resource to those I served, I returned in 2012 for more education. In 2015, I obtained my Master’s degree from The University of Memphis in Counseling and shortly after became a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, CRC.
Growing up as a military brat and moving often, home was always thought of where my grandparents were, which is Alabama. My family is my cornerstone and we stay close and enjoy as much time together as possible. While not working, I enjoy reading in a quiet room and being involved in several organizations, CODA, NAD, RID, ADARA, and the list goes on.
Access Services Advisor
I have worked with college students for over fifteen years at two wonderful Mississippi institutions. My work in student affairs began at Mississippi University for Women serving as Testing Coordinator in the Counseling, Career, and Testing Center. I joined Student Disability Services at the University of Mississippi in 2006. As Access Services Advisor, I have the opportunity to assist students in pursuing their academic goals by collaborating with them and faculty to address barriers in their classes. I enjoy meeting with prospective students and their families to help them identify what accommodations may be necessary to provide access to their college courses and navigate the transition from high school to college.
I am active on campus and in our community. I have been a board member in MS AHEAD (state affiliate of the Association on Higher Education and Disability), and I am working with other disability advocates in the state to reactivate this much needed organization. I currently serve on the UM Chancellor’s Standing Committee on Accessibility and the Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues (Oxford, MS).
Currently, I am working on a Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Personnel.
In my limited free time, I enjoy hanging out with family and friends, cooking, and relaxing on my back porch.
Access Services Advisor
Adaptive Technology Specialist
As the Adaptive Technology Specialist, my primary duties when working with students with disabilities is Assistive Technology training and creating Accessible Format. Some of my other duties include training staff in creating accessible materials, testing University department websites for accessibility issues, accessible web design, and any other duties that may require my experience in accessibility and Universal Design.
Prior to coming to the University of Mississippi, I was the Adaptive Technology Specialist at St. Louis Community College for over 9 years. Also, at that time I owned a small business in IT Consulting and Web Design for over 10 years.
I am originally from Belleville, Illinois and earned a B.S. in Biology from St. Louis University in 1992. In 2002, I received an A.A.S. in Network Technology from Sanford-Brown College.
When I’m not working as an Adaptive Technology Specialist, in my spare time my hobbies include collecting Thundercats memorabilia, computers/networking, collecting Illinois Central N-Gauge trains, astronomy, and hiking when I get a chance.
MARY ANN WALSH
Program Coordinator-SDS Testing Center
As program Coordinator of the Student with Disability Services Testing Center, I work with students, faculty and staff to provide an alternate testing environment for all SDS Students. It is a campus wide testing center located in Kinard Hall.
I have worked in higher education throughout my career while taking time to be at home raising two children. I have worked in the Dean of Students Office, the Patterson School of Business and the College of Liberal Arts at the University before recently moving to Student Disability Services. I have a Master’s Degree in Higher Education-Student Personnel from OleMiss.
Testing Administrator-SDS Testing Center
Proctor-SDS Testing Center
As a Graduate Assistant, my responsibilities include assisting in coordinating and executing SDS’s peer note-taking program and providing testing accommodations for students with disabilities. Additionally, I will be conducting guided research on disability in higher education.
I received my B.S. in Communication Disorders from Arkansas State University and my M.S. in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Memphis. I have prior experience working in disability services in K-12 schools and higher education, university speech-language pathology clinics, and university counseling to medical and allied health professions students. I am a National Board-Certified Counselor (NCC). I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision in the College of Education here at The University of Mississippi.
I enjoy climbing and hiking, where time permits. Contrary to those activities, I love eating! I enjoy spending time with people that make me laugh, my family, and friends.