After Nearly Seven Years of Dedicated Service to UNM-Gallup, Mary Lou Mraz Retires.
Mary Lou Mraz helped build the Accessibility Resource Center at UNM-Gallup, providing countless students with disabilities critical services to excel on campus and in their coursework.
By: Lee Lamb, Sr. Public Relations Specialist
January 13, 2021 - This new year brings much-deserved new beginnings for Mary Lou Mraz, former Accommodations Specialist of UNM-Gallup’s Accessibility Resource Center (ARC), as she leaves behind a notable and impactful career and enters into the joyful years of retirement.
“I’m looking forward to retirement and to spend more time with my husband—and just enjoying being home together,” Mraz recently reflected when asked about her future plans. “I have enough irons in the fire with the community groups where I serve that I don’t worry about what to do. Besides, I want to learn new things, cook new things, and learn how to play again!”
Mraz first joined UNM-Gallup in the summer of 2013 as a job development officer in what was then a brand-new Career Services Office. Two years later in 2015, she found herself continuing and growing ARC’s good work on campus with the mission to provide comprehensive resources to the UNM-Gallup community—including all faculty, staff, and students—in order to create equitable, inclusive, and practical learning environments.
In speaking about those early days growing the program, Mraz explained how she established a foundational building process with the early implementation of policies, procedures, and other materials that remain in place today. To get the program up and running, she recalled that student staff learned how to be readers and scribes; how to introduce assistive devices; and how to be available when a student just needed to rest or have help through a bad day. “My time was often quickly usurped by delivering direct services such as orienting blind or low-vision students to their classrooms the first few weeks of each term, teaching students how to use the microphones for essay dictation, and helping with a host of academic advisor tasks and duties required by the ARC students,” she said.
Over the course of seven years, Mraz served ARC students nobly and with a sense of purpose, providing UNM-Gallup students with disabilities the resources to excel in their studies. “Students with disabilities are often otherwise very able to excel in certain subjects and can experience success in almost all fields,” she explained. “As an example, our students who are diagnosed along the Autism Spectrum may be at the top of their grades in certain STEM subjects, and yet their comfort in groups or giving class presentations may lower their grades if those conditions are required in a course. I was always delighted when our professors would work collaboratively with ARC to accommodate the specific needs of our students—without having to significantly change the nature of their course. These instances of creativity and accommodation were highlights of each semester for me.”
Jayme McMahon, Director of Student Affairs, worked closely with Mraz throughout her tenure at UNM-Gallup. “The support, advocacy, and compassion she demonstrated in every interaction have helped form lasting connections with students and colleagues alike,” McMahon recalled. “Her contributions have been invaluable, and we extend the sincerest gratitude and appreciation to Mary Lou as she begins the next chapter in her life.”
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UNM Gallup Article Contact:
Lee Lamb, Sr. Public Relations Specialist | email@example.com
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