Narmin Jarrous is a Crain’s Detroit Business “40 under 40” winner, a UM-Dearborn graduate and a business leader.
But before Jarrous could become these, she had to embrace another part of her identity: a person with a disability. She credits UM-Dearborn’s Disability and Accessibility Services office for helping her do that.
“My time at UM-Dearborn changed my life,” she says. “They set me up for success. College is the first time someone with the power to help listened to me, explained that disabilities aren’t always visible, and said that it’s OK to ask for and receive help.”
Prior to this, Jarrous, who was diagnosed with endometriosis in her early teens and experiences excessive pain due to the disease, says a high school staff member told her she’d never attend college due to her absences, which were medically approved. She had a teacher refuse to let her take an exam she missed due to surgery. She even had friends question if her pain was really bad enough to skip social events.
“I was so drained physically from the pain. And I felt like I always had to defend myself or fight to convince people that my pain is real, which drained me mentally too,” Jarrous says.
A UM-Dearborn department chair — who heard about Jarrous’ health-related absences from professors — reached out to Jarrous and referred her to the university’s Disability and Accessibility Services office. At the DAS office, DAS Coordinator Judy Walker spoke with Jarrous about her successes and challenges, collected documentation, advised her on available accommodations, and reached out to Jarrous’ professors. Jarrous’ accommodations included excusing her absences and allowing her to make up missed classwork, which is what she needed to be successful.
“I learned that disability is not a bad word and to accept myself as I am. I learned about equity and how empowering it is. Judy helped renew my excitement for my education,” she says. “My health is always a worry, but I no longer had to worry about how it would impact my education.”
Jarrous graduated with honors and is now the chief development officer at Exclusive Brands, a cannabis company with locations across Michigan, where she focuses on social equity efforts.