With the growing emphasis on continued education in our society, getting a college degree is one of the best choices an adult can make. It may seem to be a part of the natural cycle of graduate from high school-go to college- get a job- grow old lifespan now, but for a lot of us it means a lot more. Especially if you, like me, are a student with a physical disability.
I was in the middle of college when my motorcycle accident occurred, but thanks to the rehabilitation I got, I was able to continue school without having to take any time off. But now, all of a sudden, I’m going to a new school (I was a transfer student), with this new body and this new chair that I didn’t think that well together. It was an interesting first week trying to not only find my way around, but get where I needed to go over bumps and curbs and trying as fast as possible to find the nearest handicapped bathroom.
I’m the former Miss Wheelchair South Carolina 2011-2012 and I toured the first year after my accident all around the state, talking to different peer support groups, colleges, medical schools and hospitals. The one question I was always asked was “Is University of South Carolina (my alma mater) an accessible campus?”The short answer? No, not really. But what part of the world really is 100% ADA proof? It’s the people, the students, the Office of Student Disability Services, the miles your professors are willing to go for you, the helping hand that’s always there on campus that make it accessible. And so, when I’m asked, I tell them that I have yet to open a door for myself. If I’m late to any class or can’t go because of something to do with my disability, my professors don’t even need an explanation. I ask and receive rides everywhere by asking the person next to me if I can hold onto their backpack. And when I don’t need or want help, I smile and say thanks because I know they’ll be there next time when I do want it.