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Senior earns DRS Oklahoma School for the Blind Student of the Year award

Monday, March 23, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY – De’Poris Willis from Sand Springs earned School for the Blind Student of the Year award from the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services’
Oklahoma on March 10 at the state Capitol.

Willis received his award on DRS’ 25th People with Disabilities Awareness Day.

Commission for Rehabilitation Services Commissioner Emily Cheng and DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt recognized Willis for his positive attitude, hard work and leadership skills.

“He is an outstanding ambassador for the school and determined to meet the high goals he sets for himself,” Fruendt said.

After struggling to see smartboards and worksheets with dull black fonts at his local school, Willis and his mother transferred him to OSB.

“I am now able to perform at my best in and outside the classroom because of Oklahoma School for the Blind’s small class sizes, large print textbooks, emailed assignments and support from OSB educators,” Willis wrote in an email.

He is Student Council president, a talented drummer in OSB’s award-winning Jazz Band and an actor in a DRS public service announcement.

Willis works at Colton’s Steakhouse and is learning about a potential career in commercial real estate with an internship at C.S. Raper & Son Realtors.

In years past, People with Disabilities Awareness Day brought nearly a thousand Oklahomans to the state Capitol to talk with lawmakers and share their stories. Construction at the state Capitol this year made such an onsite event impossible, leading supporters to come together online at

Last year, DRS served 82,787 Oklahomans with disabilities with career preparation, employment, residential and outreach education, independent living programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits. The agency helps job seekers with disabilities face barriers to employment, such as inaccessible worksites, lack of transportation or the need for specialized equipment or training. For more information, visit or phone 800-845-8476.

De’Poris Willis (right) accepts the Oklahoma School for the Blind Student of the Year award from Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services Executive Director Melinda Fruendt (left) and Commission for Rehabilitation Services Commissioner Emily Cheng (center) at the state Capitol.
For more information contact

Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director
cell 405-203-1318 office 405-951-3473

Last Modified on Jun 08, 2022
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