Q&A: Davis smooths path to success for disabled students


Eastfield faculty Vivian Davis does work on her computer. Photo by Rory Moore/The Et Cetera

Vivian Davis is a case manager for Eastfield’s Accessibility Services Office, which provides academic support for disabled students. Davis sat down with The Et Cetera contributor Keturah Jones to discuss her passion for helping disadvantaged students get an equal chance for education.

Q. What made you interested in becoming a case manager?
I love the job. Our students struggle the most. They have to work extra, extra hard. People do not know how much they struggle to be successful.

Q. How do you assist students with their needs?
It is my job to accommodate the needs of students who may need classroom support, such as a sign language interpreter, or make arrangements for students who need assistance during class.

Q. How heavy is your case load?
I’ve actually been supporting the entire Eastfield campus for a year and a half by myself. I recently just got the two other case managers so now the caseload is split. We have 200 a piece now.

Q. Are these students in the same classroom as students without disabilities?
Yes, all of the students are in the same classroom.

Q. The students that are more mentally challenged, that’s a wide range. You could go from schizophrenia to ADHD. Do you have those types of severe cases?
Yes, we do, lots of them. These are cases that you cannot see with the eye. These are the ones that we have the most of.

Q. No one in the classroom knows?
No, everything is confidential.

Q. Have you ever had a student who did not take their medications to disrupt class?
Yes, as a counselor I know my students, and I can tell when something is not right. There is a change in their behavior. Then we will walk over to counseling and have counseling to assist.

Q. What is the minimum degree requirement to work in an office like this?
Just a bachelor’s degree in counseling or mental health.

Q. What type of degree do you have?
I have a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

Q. What about outside support? Do you have organizations to come in and work with you here at school?
Well, before quarantine, we worked a lot with TWC, Texas Workforce. We are gradually getting back to having those services linked back up. We have speakers come in and speak to students about how they can get into the workforce.

Q. So can they get scholarships and certificates?
Yes, TWC will pay for whatever materials they need for college, or whatever equipment they need like computers, hearing aids or braille.

Q. How do your students perform in the real world after they graduate?
One student became a computer engineer. He completed his BA at Texas State and he is moving into the corporate world. He came back last week and gave us that report.

Q. What is life like for you outside of work?
I am known as the superhero mom of accessibility. Whenever I’m out and about during leisure time with my daughter and I see a handicap door that is not working, I get angry and say, “That door was supposed to be opening.”

Q. You seem like you are passionate about what you do.
Yes, I really love my work. It is my passion.

Q. What are your hobbies and special interests?
I like taking walks, cycling. I love nature walks. Don’t forget my Zumba class.

Q. When do you plan to retire?
I have no idea. I have no plan right now. In my head I’m still young.