During USI’s Fall 2012 Commencement ceremony, President Linda L.M. Bennett shared a quote from Dr. Donald Pitzer, professor emeritus of history, who told a 1987 USI graduate at that year's ceremony, "If you try, you can fly."
The graduate that Pitzer shared his inspiring words with more than 20 years ago was Ronda (Crowley) Stone, the new disability resources coordinator in USI’s Counseling Center.
Stone says Pitzer was her “cheerleader” throughout her college career. “He thought my story was amazing in that I could overcome the odds and earn a degree as a first-generation college student raised by a single mother,” she said. “I didn’t think my situation was unique. Many students are faced with challenges and have to work hard for their education.”
In her new role as disability resources coordinator, Stone is now helping others overcome challenges along their road to an education. She’s teaching others that they too can fly. In this new position for the University, Stone administers all aspects of the Counseling Center’s services designed to increase opportunities for the personal, educational, and life direction development of students with disabilities. She also serves as a resource for faculty and staff in finding ways to best support students with disabilities.
“Ronda has demonstrated a remarkable ability to assist students with disabilities,” said Thomas Longwell, director of Counseling. “She marshals university resources and works with constituent groups across campus to help students overcome challenges and show their true academic abilities. She has already streamlined a number of procedures, while forming connections with faculty, staff, and students.”
Stone works from the Counseling Center, but will move to a new stand-alone Disability Resources Center on the second floor of the Science Center this summer. As part of the transition, her position will become part of University Division.
“Having Disability Resources move to University Division is consistent with our mission of enhancing student success at USI, and it aligns well with some of the services we provide in Academic Skills,” said Brody Broshears, director of University Division. “We couldn’t be happier about Ronda joining our team. She is going to be a tremendous asset to our campus.”
Coming full circle
After earning a bachelor’s degree in social science/psychology from USI in 1987, Stone began her career at Qualex, a photofinishing company in Evansville, where she focused on quality control and management for 23 years. When the plant closed, she decided to continue her education at USI, where she completed the Transition to Teaching program and earned an educator license in elementary education and special education with a computer endorsement.
For the next five years, Stone worked as disability resources coordinator at the University of Evansville, before making the decision to take on a similar role at USI in February 2013.
Stone and her husband Bob have two sons, one of which is attending USI and the other a University of Evansville student. She is currently working on a “bucket list” item to see all 50 U.S. states and only has six left to visit to fulfill her goal.
Photo Credit: USI Photography Services
Ronda Stone and Dr. Donald Pitzer are shown in a photograph from USI's 1987 Commencement ceremony with the caption "If you try, you can fly." Stone has the framed photograph displayed in her office in the Counseling Center.