PITTSBURG — Roughly 145 students filled Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday for the annual Disability Mentoring Day.

Throughout the day, high school students with disabilities learned about higher education programs and had mock interviews. For at least one student, the mock interview may lead to a job.

Southeast Kansas Independent Living Resource Center Director of Independent Living and Quality Assurance Mary Reynolds said she was so impressed with a Baxter Springs interviewee, she is considering him for future employment.

The junior at Baxter Springs High School, Mason Brown, said he is also considering his future with SKIL.

“I like what they are about and giving back to the community,” he said. “I would definitely consider working there.”

Event chair, Louann Colyer, said the connections made during the mentoring day have led to jobs in the past.

The point of the event, she said, is to gives students with disabilities a chance to learn important life skills and discover options after high school.

“This is an opportunity for these kids to gain a little knowledge” about different opportunities, she said.

Colyer caught wind of the national effort called Disability Mentoring Day, or DMD, and brought it to Pittsburg 10 years ago. The event has grown to over 250 people when including the organizations taking part.

Nicole Dublin, a student accommodations coordinator at Pittsburg State University, was talking to students about the different services PSU offers those with disabilities.

“There are offices on college campuses that can provide assistance that students don’t know about,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to share that information.”

The students came from Crawford, Cherokee, Bourbon and Labette counties. The group heard from keynote speaker Katie Rennie, a PSU student who was severely injured in a car wreck. Rennie encouraged the students not to let disabilities prevent them from achieving their goals.

Seniors, such as Brandon Stephenson, of Frontenac, also had an opportunity to tour Walmart and the Career and Technical Education Center of Crawford County.

“This has taught me how to do job interviews and to go out in the real world with confidence,” he said.

Financial support for the event came from a $1,300 Pritchett Trust grant, Amerigroup, United Health and Sunflower. Other local organizations chipped in for door prizes and other items, Colyer said.

— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at mstavola@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.