2016 Student Essay Winner Cheryl Carroll

2016 SEC Winner Cheryl Carroll

2016 SEC Winner Cheryl Carroll

2016 SEC Winner Paloma Marinelarena

Against All Odds, A Dream Come True

For the past three and a half years, I’ve had the opportunity to work towards my Associate of Arts degree with the help from all of my professors, my advisor, and the administration at NMSU-A. One faculty member stands out because of his encouragement, support, kindness, and his desire to see his students succeed.

I had to complete science courses in order to fulfill the main core requirements for my degree. I chose to take Geography as one of them, not realizing that it would be difficult with my low vision disability.

I remember sitting in class this one morning; Professor Webb was drawing diagrams describing weather condition details. I was trying to keep up with what he was explaining, all the while straining to see what he was doing on the board. I could feel the anxiety building, my eyes started tearing up, and discouragement set in. I kept wiping my tears and tried to stop, but the tears kept falling. I continued, trying hard to focus, to see, but it was impossible; everything now was blurred. I gathered my books and made my way out of the room.

I found my way to a table in the hallway and knew that I would have to drop the course. Just that thought made the tears stream faster down my face; I felt like a failure. I had to wait for my son, who was also taking the course and had been sitting right next to me in the classroom.

After about ten minutes, the class was dismissed and Professor Webb walked over to me. He asked what he could do to help. I told him what had happened, the frustration I felt from my inability to decipher what was going on in the lecture and my resolve to drop the class–all due to my broken eyes. He told me, “You can do it, don’t drop.” He encouraged me to continue and told me that he would do everything he could to help me through.

He sat with me while fellow classmates, including my son, watched next to us. Professor Webb took out paper and began to draw the entire diagram he had done on the board; I got it. For the remainder of that semester, he went above and beyond all expectations. He made sure that I could see everything, incorporating different strategies in the process. The lab part of the course was done in groups; he told my son that he could be my eyes and allowed him to help me with the maps, which were way too small for me to read, even with my high-powered magnifying glasses.

I will forever be grateful for his determination and belief in me and his knowledge of my desire to succeed in college, career, and life. I will be graduating this spring with my associate’s degree. In retrospect, he helped me complete a course, finish the semester, and graduate from college; he would not allow my disability to stop me from achieving my goals!