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Mills College appoints New Student Accommodations Support Specialist

Photo Courtesy of Clara Lopes
Photo Courtesy of Clara Lopes

Mills College welcomes Clara Lopes who will be the new Student Access Support Specialist and a new member of the Student Access and Support Services (SASS) team.

Lopes was hired at the beginning of September to ensure students with disabilities receive their American Disability Act (ADA) protected accommodations. She works to evaluate and coordinate academic housing, and is working to develop more student support resources on campus. Lopes’ position also encompasses hiring, monitoring and managing notetakers, readers and scribes. 

“I love it; my role has many hats and I am getting to know them all,” Lopes said. “Mills has a social justice focus and I love that there is a large consciousness of gender identity.” 

In addition, Lopes works with students who may need alternate meal plans, emotional support animals and exam accommodations. She works collaboratively with Housing Management and Dining Services (HMDS), Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Mills’ faculty to ensure students have what they need to be academically successful. She also meets with students who need hall accommodations, non-disability or disability related, and helps students transition from high school to college in a variety of circumstances, and diverse backgrounds.

“I hope to help teach and empower our students to advocate for themselves, not just at Mills but wherever they work or learn next,” Lopes said.

Prior to Mills, Lopes worked as an ABA therapist for children on the autism spectrum, and was also a social worker and case manager for educational non-profits in the East Bay Area. She went to San Francisco State University and then completed a post baccalaureate program at the University of Idaho in communication science disorders, and a graduate certificate in the growing field of assistive technology. She is looking forward to pursuing a speech language pathology master’s degree within the next year and working with people who have speech and hearing issues who are doing rehabilitative work for those challenges.

Luam Arefaine, a Mills alumnae, works closely with Lopes as an administrative assistant and organizes accounts for notetakers, scribes and readers. She was on the committee that interviewed Lopes and says that she feels Lopes is very knowledgeable about how to help students become more independent.

“Clara has a lot of ideas to add to SASS to better assist students,” Arefaine said.

Pilar Page, the Student Support coordinator, notes that Lopes ensures that students’ needs are being met. Page believes her role is very beneficial to Mills. 

“Clara has great energy, enthusiasm, a desire to help students and staff, and is doing a phenomenal job,” Page said. “She is going above and beyond.”

In the near future, Lopes hopes to collaborate with the Center for Academic Excellence and the Information Technology department to create programs available to students that may not have obvious learning differences but that still benefit from more executive functioning such as organization and workshop support in the future.

Lopes encourages students to stop by her office hours Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. She can be directly contacted through or or at the following phone number: 510-430-3307.