Kimberly Austin-Baker’s life goal is to work with clients who have survived traumatic injury and aid them on their journey to re-enter society. And she’s not waiting for graduation to get started.
Austin-Baker founded a community organization called Disability Awareness Project Detroit (DAPDET) and currently serves as president. The organization focuses on educating the public about disabilities, promotes inclusion and offers support to individuals in the disability community.
“I am dedicated to promoting disability awareness, inclusion and education to increase social acceptance, tolerance and understanding of persons with disabilities,” Austin-Baker said.
Through DAPDET, she serves her community as a peer mentor to spinal cord and brain injury survivors. But she recently had a chance to get her message out to a wider community with some help from her fellow survivors. Partnering with a design and marketing company in Royal Oak, Austin-Baker wrote, directed and edited a public service announcement about disability etiquette.
“She and other DAPDET members constructed an outstanding PSA on this topic that profiles individuals with diverse forms of disabilities and demonstrates the unintentional insults they often face from people without disabilities,” said Professor Jane Sheldon, who has taught Austin-Baker in an upper-division psychology class.
After graduation, Austin-Baker plans to continue her education and pursue a doctorate in psychology, with the career goal of becoming a psychologist who specializes in clients with traumatic injury. Being named a Difference Maker provides an extra dose of motivation.
“This award has further encouraged and motivated me to continue on my path to be a successful leader,” she said. “To be recognized for my efforts to make a difference in the lives of others is astonishing to me when all I want to do is make the world a more understanding place.”