10/21/2019 Jenny Gumbert

Autumn Research Fair 2019: Policy Issues Regarding Invisible Disabilities

Jake Stimell has always been interested in helping people. Now, thanks to opportunities that have opened to him as a student at Franklin & Marshall College, he is able to channel that altruistic inclination into his research.

Stimell is a recipient of the Marshall Fellowship, a program designed to encourage intellectual adventure and one that provides support to fellows for academic enrichment. His particular interests took him to an internship at the Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA), located in Castle Rock, Colo. 

“As someone with a personal connection to invisible disabilities and who wanted to gain experience in public policy, this seemed like a great fit,” said Stimell, a senior psychology major and sociology minor. “This internship allowed me to put some of the knowledge I have gained in college to use.”

  • Always interested in helping people, Stimell's research project involved contacting Colorado state legislators to promote the National Disability ID designator (NDID) legislation, which allows for voluntary disclosure of a disability on a state ID to aid interactions with law enforcement, first responders and educators. Always interested in helping people, Stimell's research project involved contacting Colorado state legislators to promote the National Disability ID designator (NDID) legislation, which allows for voluntary disclosure of a disability on a state ID to aid interactions with law enforcement, first responders and educators. Image Credit: Deb Grove

During his internship, Stimell worked remotely, contacting state legislators in an attempt to promote the National Disability ID designator (NDID) legislation. This was significant work; NDID legislation would allow for voluntary disclosure of a disability on a state ID in an effort to aid interactions with law enforcement, first responders and educators. He also spent some time in Colorado with the executive director of the IDA, meeting with various executives at private companies and nonprofit organizations, and attempting to push the state ID initiative as well as the other IDA matters designed to improve the well-being of people living with invisible disabilities.

Stimell said that, on top of feeling fulfilled by the opportunity to pursue a subject that was meaningful to him, his favorite part of this project was the amount of independence he had and how that freedom pushed him out of his comfort zone. 

“The IDA allowed me free reign in structuring my Marshall Fellowship project,” Stimell said. “This allowed me to grow and figure out how to do things myself. In the end, pushing myself paid off and I was able to do interesting work and make great connections. I was proud of the contributions I made to an important cause.”

The impact of Stimell’s Marshall Fellowship project will endure; he plans to take the experience he gained at the IDA and knowledge he’s acquired at F&M with him as he pursues job opportunities in the area of disability studies, policy and research. 

“I am ready to explore options and see what is out there during my senior year,” Stimell said.  

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