TL;DR Applying for PhD and asked volunteer experience. I requested ADHD accommodations and am the first student in my alma mater to get extra time on exams. I didn't do it solely for other people such as representing or assisting a mentally ill friend, for instance. I did it for me but expect it would be beneficial to other/future ADHD students. Could that count as volunteering?

Super long version of events:

Happy ADHD Awareness Month!


  • I'm applying for a PhD government funding in country A which asks for volunteer work as part of social responsibility or something like that.


  • In January 2016, I took my final semester of masteral studies in applied maths in country B. I had finished all but one (as the then-chair of my department pointed out twice) class, including thesis and was mostly tutoring undergrads at a nearby tutorial center.

  • Still, I exercised my rights and appealed just in case (turns out useful for GRE). This was for extra time on exams (besides other accommodations) based on my ADHD that I discovered I had in August 2015, after 15 and a half years lack of treatment after my apparently having been diagnosed.

  • I had no idea about disability offices or whatever. Apparently I had asked about it on stackexchange but forgot about it. Then for certain reasons (privacy likely but might be forgetting something), I asked elsewhere instead of stackexchange about this.

  • I told my professor about my ADHD who suggested #2 in appeals below who referred me to #3 then #4, who surprisingly brought in #5 to the discussion. (Good to know #5 remembers I'm from country A (then again I'm the only in class who doesn't speak the language of country B) and #4 has a relative in country A.)

  • Result: I was denied extra time for my first exam.

  • (more details in revision history)

  • I went back to #2 and #3 below: They knew about disability offices but didn't tell me because of I guess strong arming or whatever was that term from House of Cards (not a political guy, but I guess I soon will/should be if I were to become a PhD student). (Also #3 said ADHD isn't a mental illness despite #3's son having ADHD. I suspect #3 has ADHD as well.)

  • Result: I was granted extra time on my second and third exams.

  • (more details in revision history)

  • Thus I was able to show my newfound empathy to my university as it had shown empathy to me throughout the course of my graduate studies.

  • Thus, I was able to contribute to neurodiversity, understanding, empathy, mental health stigma reduction and the development of the disability office: This may be the first country B disability office.

For the events above, I appealed to (in order):

  1. my (one) class (left) professor,
  2. the head of the university counselling/guidance office,
  3. the head (and only member of) the (not yet set up) disability office,
  4. the dean of the graduate students,
  5. the chair of my department,
  6. the former dean of student services (and then dean of something else)
  7. the dean of sciences
  8. the soon to be old vice president (ended after my graduation) in person and impromptu with mediation from #4
  9. the new vice president (starting after my graduation) by email

    • (more details in revision history)

(Near) Future:

One university I'm applying requests a diversity essay.

Is it bad/unprofessional or something, besides redundant, to put these events in both volunteer work and (neurodiversity) essay?

Ignore if this doesn't count as volunteer work in the first place.

  • 1
    Glad to hear things worked out and it was interesting for me personally to ready your outline but you really should summarize here. You can of course link to some blog or other site where you describe the process in more detail. Apr 2, 2018 at 14:03
  • @aparente001 HAHA I remember you. I will eventually after I get around to my plan, 2 and a half years of procrastination of it, of telling or asking my grade school and high school friends about my ADHD. Thank you!
    – BCLC
    Apr 2, 2018 at 14:18

1 Answer 1


No, this really wouldn't fall under anybody's definition of "volunteer" work. If you were part of a larger group that was advocating such benefits for an entire group (or doing it on someone else's behalf), that might be different. But under the present circumstances—since you're doing it for your own benefit—it's not really volunteering.

  • The first part of the assumption might apply. Thank you aeismail! =)
    – BCLC
    Oct 17, 2017 at 21:05

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