Student Spotlight: Elaine Mara

This spring, we are celebrating some of our outstanding students who are graduating this semester. We wish all of our graduating students the best as they begin the next chapter of their journeys.

Elaine Mara

Name: Elaine Mara

Hometown: Cocoa Beach, Florida

Program: Visual Disabilities Education (M.S.)

Why did you choose your program?

As a person who was born with a visual impairment and later experienced significant vision loss, I felt a deep connection to the field, and having worked with teens who are blind or visually impaired before enrolling at FSU, I felt compelled to return to school just under a decade after completing my first master's degree to earn the certifications needed to continue this important work and become an even stronger advocate for students like myself.

What's your favorite part of your program?

The Visual Disabilities Education program provides students with many opportunities to meet vision professionals through fieldwork, state, national, and international conferences, and student teaching/internship placements throughout the program. The research and presentation opportunities afforded me throughout the program led to two conference presentations while in the program, and three upcoming presentations at regional and international conferences in the months following graduation.

I have shared my experiences as an individual with a visual impairment many times during my coursework to help my classmates and those in the cohorts that follow, with a firsthand experience of visual impairment and the impact that vision professionals can have on their students and clients, something not afforded in every major.

What do you want to do after you graduate?

As my time at FSU comes to an end, I plan to spend the first years of my teaching career in the schools, working with students who are blind or visually impaired, teaching them the skills and techniques to help them realize and achieve their goals and partnering with their families to help them realize that a visual impairment doesn't have to stop a child from growing into an amazing adult pursuing their dreams.

My ultimate goal is to return to graduate school, earn a terminal degree, and become a part of the changing landscape of educating our future teachers of students with visual impairments and Orientation & Mobility Specialists.