This archived article was written by: Angel McRae
Program Coordinator Karl Burnside is a new addition to the Student Disability Resource Center at USU Eastern this year.
Burnside’s background has prepared him well for this job. Growing up on the family’s farm he acquired a good work ethic by laboring long hard hours with his dad.
While in high school, he had an opportunity to go work in the coal mine, an idea his mother was opposed to. Burnside was able to win his mother over by promising to graduate which lead to him working graveyards in the mine coming home for a quick shower and then heading off to school his senior year.
He worked in the mine for ten years before going to work as a youth corrections officer where he spent the next 13 years assisting the youth in the community and sometimes even helping their parents overcome challenges in their lives by building and strengthening their nucleus of family and friends connecting them with resources to help them succeed.
While working as a youth corrections officer he met Jan Thornton, USU Eastern’s Director of Student Success. She introduced him to what the Disability Resource Center had to offer students and faculty. Burnside said that from day one, working with everyone in the student resource center has been like being welcomed into the family. Students that work with Burnside will say that he is always there with a smile and ready to help. USU Eastern student Terri Paulk said, “That door is always open. It doesn’t matter if I am having a good day or a bad day, I always feel better after talking with Karl.”
Students appreciate his willingness to give them hope and his ability to see some of the positives when pressures of student life seem to start crushing in around them. He is one of the many great many resources we have on campus.
Learning and physical disabilities do not exclude students from obtaining a college education. The American’s Disability Act requires colleges to look at each student’s ability to meet course requirements and to provide accommodations for students with disabilities without diminishing the educational integrity of courses.
Burnside said, “You never know what your job will be until it comes through the door.” Changing the mind set of if you are talking you are not working has been one of the challenges of his job. Student Chris McNeil said “On long days I come and just chill with Karl.”