“I wouldn’t have been where I am today without the ongoing support of my mentors, who believed in me when I didn’t in myself, who amplified my strengths and taught me the importance of self-respect. Mentoring to me is becoming a personal advocate for someone and making them realize their potential. This can be done through a variety of ways – over frequent detailed conversations, introducing someone to a helpful contact or just simply telling your mentee, “I believe in you. Go for it!” All kinds of mentorship have been beneficial to me over these years. One of my strongest life goals is to give back to the community what I have gotten – there is a unique sense of purpose in doing so.”
We are proud to induct Meenakshi Das into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.
Meenakshi ‘Meena’ Das is a founder of ‘Working with Disabilities’ (https://www.facebook.com/groups/431496164254403), a support group for students and working professionals with disabilities. She is also a masters student studying computer science at Auburn University, where she is a Graduate Research Assistant working on accessible computing education under Dr. Daniela Marghitu. For this work, she was named an NCWIT Collegiate Award Finalist (https://www.aspirations.org/blog/national-center-women-information-technology-ncwit-selects-finalists-2021-ncwit-collegiate).
Meena has shared about the challenges of having a stutter, and now is an advocate for accessibility. She uses her life experiences and education in computer science to emphasize why it’s critical for us to work toward accessibility in education and tech. Through her accessibility expertise, she has advised several individuals and organizations about tangible ways to make their products and services accessible. She has also spoken on several panels on disability inclusion including the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and the Disability:IN Annual Conference. In 2019, she was featured by Diet Coke as a person who is shattering societal labels. Meena also represented Alabama as a disability advocate for a Ruderman Family Foundation Initiative and shared her view on the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) on its 30th anniversary: https://rudermanfoundation.org/link20/celebrating-30-years-of-ada/. During her internship at Microsoft in 2020, she started an accessibility learning series for interns, securing guest speakers on a range of topics such as Accessibility, mental health during COVID-19 pandemic, and connecting interns with disabilities to resources and information across the company for over 300+ interns.
Meena is a free spirit, with a passion to make the world inclusive one step at a time. She received her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Mississippi State University, where she founded an organization for students with disabilities, and was one of the recipients of the highest student award by the university. She is a member of the Accessibility Leadership Committee of a non-profit organization named Disability:IN, and previously served on the student council of the same. She has been quoted by ABC News, CNET and Forbes for her views on disability inclusion. While she is not working, you can find her listening to pop music and writing for her personal blog (https://bloginclusive.wordpress.com/) and Instagram Page (https://www.instagram.com/disabilitiesintech/).