Disability Services Professional

“It’s all about equal access.”

Dr. Erica Tomory called Long Island, New York home for much of her life before moving to Georgia with her family when she was 32. Dr. Tomory’s older brother has been diagnosed with multiple disabilities, and watching her brother learning to navigate his environment with those challenges inspired her to delve deeper into education and, later, what service looks like for people with disabilities.

While she lived in New York, Dr. Tomory worked for a tutoring company called C2 Education where she was in charge of major portions of the educational aspect of the business as well as the actual business side of the enterprise. At one point, Dr. Tomory started to train other center directors about IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) and 504 plans, the two main types of formal assistance offered to K-12 students who need additional support.

“I found that I really like teaching adults. I like being around adults. I love talking to students about college entry. It seemed like I was leaning more toward the higher education aspect of education than K-12, which is what I was originally certified in,” said Dr. Tomory.

She stayed with the same company for a while longer and moved to Johns Creek, Georgia where the C2 Education are headquartered in hopes of joining the team in charge of teacher training. Eventually she began to search for new opportunities in higher education. This search led her to Life University. Her personal research of Life U made a lasting impression.

“I really appreciate what the University stands for. I appreciate the environment that we have, and that’s a place I want to be a part of,” said Dr. Tomory.

As of May 2022, Dr. Tomory will have been at Life U for three years.

“I love the multiple opportunities to teach others, through my experiences, through how I grew up. I have met a lot of students who say, ‘This is all new to me. I am coming through K-12 where everything was given to me pretty much, and now, I have to do this on my own, and I don’t know what I’m doing’,” explained Dr. Tomory. “I really like that I can show them how to advocate for themselves and the tools we can provide to them to make things possible for them.”

When asked about how disability accommodations differ from K-12 to the higher education system, Dr. Tomory shared some valuable insight that may not be widely known to the average student.

“An IEP or 504 plan from K-12 is completely different from coming into higher education because it is governed by two different laws […]. There are some accommodations given in K-12 that won’t transfer over to higher education because of the differences in those laws. In higher education, it is about providing access so that these students have access to learning materials and access to learning environments, but not necessarily [a guarantee of] success,” said Dr. Tomory.

Above all, Dr. Tomory expressed the need for students to “self-advocate” because the best way to allow Life U the chance to assist in educational barriers is by students sharing their needs. Students with questions about Disability Services or those who would like to request accommodations should contact Dr. Genelle Haney, Director of Disability Services, at 770.426.2725 or Genelle.Haney@life.edu.

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