2017 Focus Award Recipients

Faculty - Dr. Bharat Bhargava

Dr. Bharat Bhargava is a professor in the department of computer science, with a courtesy appointment in the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering. He is active in supporting and mentoring minority students. He is passionate about and has demonstrated long term commitment to expanding the authentic inclusion of diverse populations within higher education, including the disabled population.  In 2003, he was inducted in the Purdue's Book of Great Teachers. Dr. Bhargava has made many contributions to the advancement of research and technology for the removal of barriers disabled individuals face in education and their daily lives. He wants to work towards a future where disabled populations experience a greater inclusion in all aspects of life.

Professor Bhargava designed a brand new graduate level seminar course (also taken by some undergraduate students) in Computer Science in Fall 2010, titled “Cloud Systems for Blind and Hearing Impaired”, which aimed to advance research and technology for blind and hearing impaired individuals through utilization of the latest cloud and mobile computing technologies. The course was supported with grants from Yahoo and Amazon by providing free access to their cloud computing clusters, and resulted in projects including a dollar bill identification system, pedestrian signal detector, and remote-controlled presentation software for blind individuals, among many others.

One of the three people that nominated him had this to say, “Professor Bhargava thrives for excellency, advancement, and a future without limitations … this is his greatest legacy to all of his students…” Dr. Bhargava has been described as having a “holistic approach” and a dedication to improving the lives of disabled individuals through research, interaction, and creation of new opportunities.

Staff - Dr. Diane Beaudoin & Dr. Stephen Beaudoin

Our 2017 staff honor is being awarded to a unique pair of individuals who represent both Purdue staff as well as Purdue faculty.  Together, Dr. Diane Beaudoin, Director of Institutional Assessment and Dr. Stephen Beaudoin, a faculty member of the School of Chemical Engineering have advocated for the improvement of Purdue’s insurance coverage for families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ASD.

ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives, while others need less. The estimated prevalence of ASD is now at 1 in 68 children, which has been continuously increasing.

Dr. Diane Beaudoin & Dr. Stephen Beaudoin are among the increasing number of families facing the challenges of finding—and then paying for—the range of special educational and therapeutic services crucial for their own children. At the time, the insurance coverage that was offered by Purdue only covered a few hours per week of therapy. This coverage did not cover the needed interventions nor the individualized services necessary to address issues across ASD cases. Dr. Diane Beaudoin & Dr. Stephen Beaudoin’s experiences fueled a long-term effort to improve insurance offerings by the university, which ultimately resulted in a change in coverage that has since benefitted many Purdue-affiliated families.

In addition to advocating for increased insurance coverage, Dr. David Rollock, Professor of Psychological Sciences, praised Drs. Diane & Stephen Beaudoin’s selfless, honest, and forthright sharing of their experiences as parents of children with ASD with his Abnormal Psychology course over the last 4 years.

Student - Sean Edwards

Sean Edwards is an undergraduate student in Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. Mr. Edwards was born with cataracts, which led to doctors removing the lenses of both eyes. After a retinal detachment compromised the vision in his right eye when he was nine years old, doctors prohibited him from participating in sports or any other physical activity that might cause another detachment. While Mr. Edwards is blind in his right eye, this has not stopped him from pursuing his passions.

He worked hard to co-develop an official club at Purdue for the sport, goalball. Goalball was originally created as a rehabilitation method for WWII veterans who had lost sight in combat. Goalball is a 3-on-3 team sport that combines an offense like bowling with a defense of soccer or hockey. Each player is blindfolded and takes turns rolling a hard-rubber ball that has bells inside of it. The ball is rolled to the opposite end of the playing area, toward the other team’s goal zone. Because each athlete is blindfolded, they must judge the placement of the ball by the sound of the bells, and use their bodies to block it from reaching their goal zone. The team with the most goals at the end of the 24-minute game wins.

Purdue Goalball is the first student organization to bring the well renowned sport, Goalball, to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and the Big Ten as a whole. Purdue Goalball strives to bring together students, staff, and faculty, be they blind, perfectly sighted, or somewhere in between, through an intense, but fun team sport that's all about inclusion. On April 23rd, 2016, Purdue Goalball hosted its first annual Regional Goalball Tournament. Six clubs from across the Midwest traveled to Purdue University to compete, including teams from Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, and Cincinnati. The second Purdue Regional Goalball Tournament will take place late April 2017.

Organization - Active Minds Chapter at IPFW

Active Minds at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne is dedicated to utilizing the student voice to change the conversation about mental health on our campus and in the community. They promote mental health awareness, stomping out stigma, and suicide prevention. This chapter has been recognized by the national office of Active Minds as a Five Star Chapter and was identified as the October Chapter of the Month.

The chapter is involved in many activities during the school year. Programs and participation include, but are not limited to "Suicide Prevention Week" and the "Out of Darkness Walk" in the Community during September, "Depression Awareness Day" in October, "Stress Less" week prior to finals, the "D.O.R.A." project, movie night including a mental health theme and discussion, therapy dogs visiting campus, "Eating Disorder Awareness" week in February and many more events.

College students are at high risk for developing mental illness, as many illnesses first become present at the college age. Pair that with the high-stress environment of college life and the fact that many young adults are on their own for the first time. In a 2006 study by the American College Health Association, nearly half of all college students reported having felt so depressed in the past year they couldn’t function. While it is clear that students are suffering, it is not nearly as clear to students and friends that it is okay to talk about these issues, and that resources are available for those who need professional help. While students are the main line of defense, they are often the last to be heard. Active Minds works on the level of the students to educate the entire campus about mental health, so students who are first experiencing symptoms understand what they are going through, know it’s not their fault, and can get the help they need; so students know how to talk to friends about whom they’re worried and how to get them into professional help; and so those students who are living with a mental health disorder don’t feel alone. Active Minds works with hundreds of students on campuses every year to build a new generation of leaders who are more in tune with their mental health and the needs of others who live everyday with mental health disorders.