DAPi Initiation and Kevin Miner Scholarship Award Ceremony 2018

Delta Alpha Pi honors students with disabilities who excel academically

The Alpha Psi Chapter of Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society at the University of Delaware hosted its fourth initiation ceremony on Saturday, March 10, 2018 during which five new members were welcomed into the society.

The ceremony was a celebration of diversity on UD’s campus and embodied the vision and purpose of Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society: to change the perception of students with disabilities by recognizing them for their academic accomplishments.

The 2018 Kevin Miner Scholarship Award winners, Kelly Bjork and Morgan Debnam, were recognized as students with a disabilities who embody the values of leadership, advocacy and pride in education while also exemplifying Kevin Miner’s optimism, strength, and a commitment to disability issues. Students are nominated for this award by UD faculty and staff or through self-nomination. The award was created to honor Miner, a Delta Alpha Pi member who passed away in 2015.

“We feel honored that there is a scholarship in Kevin’s memory that goes to a student that demonstrates some of Kevin’s best qualities,” said Carol Miner, Kevin’s mother. This was the first year that the honor society has been able to award two deserving recipients.

Delta Alpha Pi, nicknamed DAPi, is housed under the Office of Disability Support Services on campus. DAPi is an international honor society that recognizes students with disabilities who excel academically. Members of the honor society are a diverse group of individuals with various majors, interests, and talents. All members of DAPi must be registered with the Office of Disability Support Services. Undergraduate students with a 3.1 grade point average (GPA) and at least 24 credit hours and graduate students with a 3.3 GPA and at least 18 credit hours are eligible for membership.

The ceremony also honored the outgoing leaders of the executive board and installed incoming leaders for the organization. Vice president Nina Harmon, Secretary Briana McLean and Treasurer Shelbey Kreamer are leaving the board and were thanked for their leadership. The new executive board includes returning President Jenhae Linkins, Vice President Hannah Roberts, Treasurer Jonathan Bass and Secretary Elizabeth Shofield.

Linkins presented an Outstanding Service Award to chapter adviser Barbara Lewis-Kuszyk.

Michael Vaughn, associate dean of the College of Engineering and UD alumnus, urged students to “protect their dreams,” during his remarks at the event.

“DAPi represents a compelling argument to change the negative perceptions associated with disability by acknowledging students with disabilities for their academic competencies and successes,” Vaughn said.

“The key to pursuing dreams is to first believe that you have the right to be successful and extraordinary,” Vaughn said. “Please know that we want you to be even more successful and we want to help you get there.”

Anne Jannarone, director of the Office of Disability Support Services, said the event was to “recognize some of the highest achieving students at Delaware. They may have a disability and may have gone a different path from their peers, but make no mistake, they’ve had to meet the same expectations as their peers without disabilities. The bar was not set lower for this group and yet they achieved at a level higher than the majority of their peers.”

Becoming a member of Delta Alpha Pi provides opportunities for students to strive for academic excellence and to embrace diversity.

“I grew up hyper aware of the stereotypes that are placed on people like me: that we aren’t smart, we can’t be successful, or that we are too needy and can never be independent,” said Harmon, the outgoing vice president. “But in my journey through high school and through college I learned that the stereotypes did not define me and that I am smart, and I am successful, and I am independent. I’ve been able to achieve all of this in different ways than others. DAPi mission is to prove just this, to change the misguided perceptions about disabilities.”

Harmon spoke about opportunities to embrace diversity and advocacy. She told new members, “Disabilities are so often swept under the rug and not talked about. DAPi is here at UD to show that we do matter. That we are amazing, successful and empowered people, and we deserve to be treated fairly and with respect to abilities.”

If you would like to learn more about Delta Alpha Pi, the Office of Disability Support Services, or would like to donate to the Kevin Miner Scholarship Award, please contact us at (302) 831-4643.