Student with epilepsy paves way to master’s degree using on-campus resources

Darius Ballard lives with epilepsy and never let it stop his aspirations of going to college. Now he's in gradaute school, on his way to earning a master's degree in counseling.

To meet the needs of the most diverse campus in Michigan, Wayne State University offers a number of student disability resources to mitigate barriers to success. 

One student who knows firsthand the benefits of an accessible education is Darius Ballard. A student in the Master of Arts in Counseling program at the College of Education, he lives with epilepsy—a silent disability that affects more than 3 million people nationwide and that for Ballard, has resulted in neurocognitive impairment and partial deafness. 

Ballard grew up in sunny California and says his younger years were some of the hardest. The epilepsy made school difficult but he loved to learn. 

After high school, he moved from state to state, living with various family members before finally settling in Michigan with his uncle. It was a hard transition, he says. 

“I started having more seizures because of increased stress. I developed asthma.” 

It took time, patience, and creating a new routine to acclimate to his new life. Part of that new routine involved rediscovering his love of learning. He set his sights on college and started taking psychology classes at Wayne Community College. 

“I wanted to better myself. I grew up in a low-socioeconomic background in a single-parent household, and I wanted to do more,” he says.

At WC3 he met his friend Kristina who told him about Wayne State. It was close to home so he paid a visit to campus and met with Shelly Seguin, an academic advisor in the Department of Psychology, who told him all about the resources available at the university. 

Ballard says she showed him a future here was possible. He earned his bachelor’s in psychology in 2009. Nearing graduation, he decided to continue on to graduate school and supplement his training in psychology with a degree in counseling. 

“I knew I had a calling to help people. I want to do vocational rehabilitation counseling, working with disabled individuals like myself.” 

A master’s degree will pave the way for that dream. 

“I want my fellow Warriors to know how I’ve learned to adapt,” he says. “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. Going to a research institution, you can still manage to thrive here, you just have to put your priorities into perspective.”

Ballard lives and works part-time as a student assistant on campus, zipping around on his bicycle to get from one to the other. He takes advantage of free rides on the Q line to explore Downtown Detroit. The Wayne State Student Disabilities Services (SDS) paired him with a counselor who he meets with every semester to go over his class schedule and ensure he’s on track to complete his degree. He takes advantage of SDS’ private test-taking and study rooms and note-taking assistance for his online classes. He visits the W Food Pantry and Thrift Shop. 

“The W Food Pantry helped me out a whole lot in getting information about food insecurity among college students,” he says. “It provides students with food, hygiene items and transportation needs around campus.” 

He took part in counseling sessions on academic and personal stress through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and participated in speech language pathology clinical programs, but his favorite are the free art therapy sessions through the Mental Health and Wellness Center (MHaWC)  in the College of Education. 

“I utilize them a lot—they’re workshops, you work through your emotions with paint, illustrations, then you get together as a group and discuss.” 

Below is a comprehensive and ever growing list of resources available to all students at Wayne State University.  

Resources available at Wayne State

Student Disability Services (SDS). SDS pairs each student with a disability counselor who acts as a point of a contact. Located in the Undergraduate Library, accommodations include use of private exam and study rooms, assistive technology, note-taking assistance, alternative formats for textbooks, interpreter and CART reporting, and alternative testing. 

  • Location: 5155 Gullen Mall, Undergraduate Library, Suite 1600, Detroit, MI 48202
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Phone: 313-577-1851; videophone: 313-202-4216
  • Email:

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). CAPS provides free one-on-one counseling sessions and group workshops to help students understand and cope with issues such as academic performance, stress management, motivation, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, loss and adjustment to life changes. 

  • Location: 5221 Gullen Mall, Room 552, Student Center Building, Detroit, MI 48202
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Phone: Scheduled hours: 313-577-3398; outside scheduled hours: 313-577-9982 
  • Email:

Mental Health and Wellness Center (MHaWC). Located in the College of Education, MHaWC is a graduate training clinic that works to empower students through art therapy, career and vocational counseling, rehabilitation counseling, clinical mental health counseling and psychotherapy. All clinicians-in-training are under the full supervision of licensed faculty. 

  • Location: 5425 Gullen Mall, Detroit MI 48202
  • Cost: Free for students 
  • Hours: By appointment
  • Phone: Counseling and Art Therapy: 313-577-1681; Counseling and School Psychology: 313-577-8744
  • Email:

Speech and Language Clinics. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Speech and Language Clinics provide services to individuals of all ages. Individual and group therapy services are offered for fluency, articulation, voice and resonance problems, and language impairments. 

  • Location: 5229 Cass Ave., Rands House, Detroit, MI 48202
  • Cost: One fee per semester. Scholarships are available. The clinics do not participate in any insurance programs. 
  • Hours: By appointment
  • Phone: 313-577-8386
  • Email:

Audiology Clinic. The clinic in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides complete and free audiologic evaluations. 

  • Location: 5201 Cass Ave., Prentis Building, Suite 024, Detroit, MI 48202
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Monday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to noon
  • Phone: 313-577-0631
  • Email:

W Food Pantry. The Food Pantry provides enrolled Wayne State Warriors in need of food assistance with nutritious food at no cost. A OneCard and print-out of a current student schedule is required for entry. It works to increase awareness of food insecurity and other resources throughout Wayne State and the wider community. 

  • Location: 703 W. Kirby, Detroit, MI 48202
  • Cost: Free access with OneCard presented upon arrival
  • Hours: Fall and winter semesters: Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. Spring/summer semester: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Phone: 313-577-0154 
  • Email:

Wardrobe. The Wardrobe provides gently used casual and professional clothing to any enrolled student free of charge. A OneCard must be shown for access. 

  • Location: 695 W. Kirby, Detroit, MI 48202
  • Cost: Free access with OneCard presented upon arrival, current class schedule must be presented once every semester
  • Hours: Fall and winter semesters: Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. Spring/summer semester: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Phone: 313-577-0154 
  • Email:

By Kristy Case, web writer/editor, Graduate School

← Back to listing