Friday, November 30, 2018

How Much You Care

How Much You Care
A community has eyes 
Connect with those eyes 
See their souls not skin color 
Tell them how much you care

A family has love 
Connect with similarities 
See personal growth not mistakes 
Tell them how much you care

A friend has support to give
Connect over the gifts you can share 
See them for who they are 
Tell them how much you care

A school has futures to brighten 
Connect with everyone because all of us are teachers 
See every soul for how bright they are 
Tell them how much you care

Tell community how much you care
Tell family how much you care
Tell a friend how much you care
Tell a school how much you care

Readers, I do care about you. Thank you for the encouragement all year long!


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cherish the Ordinary

We take "our normal" for granted. Here are some moments that happened that were simple gifts. 

One of the professors that's in the Student Engagement Committee asked me if the Starbucks cup worked in the Keurig machine. I said, "I don't know". "Hannah, I'm going to try; I'm sure it will be fine". When the meeting started, it started raining coffee on the counter. After some heckling from fellow professors, he cleaned up the counter and successfully made a cup of coffee. It's an ordinary and funny moment but why not bask in the ordinary? 

When I have down time at Loyola or online classes, a fellow grad student helps set up my computer, so I can use my adaptive keyboard. At first, it was awkward but now she and I chat for a good twenty minutes while she helps me. She's so sweet and graduated from University of Kentucky like my brother will. Small world. 

My charm bracelet got caught in my sweater and three people ended up helping me be able to get unstuck. My peers feed me like it's no big deal (which it isn't) but I appreciate the humanity shown.

I've been thinking, and I believe I have the privilege of seeing the very best of humanity. I think we crave community and connection. We are made to be interdependent. Cherish relationships. We don't know what tomorrow holds. 


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Orientation: The Second Time Around

Last year I was an incoming student at Loyola. A year later, I am exercising my leadership skills by speaking at orientation. Take a look at what I said to the incoming students. 

You are about to embark on an amazing journey! You should be so excited. I am a part-time social justice student. I commute from Elmhurst every week. For undergraduate, I got my degree in communications. When I graduated from Elmhurst College, I interned at different nonprofits, I did some advocacy work with the Federal Communications Commission, and the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation for five years, then I came back to school.

In this department, I have had Dr. Mike Canaris and Dr. Peter Jones as professors. They were tremendous. Everyone here wants you to succeed. I feel like they know you will the work. As a student who takes twice the time it takes you to do a paper, I can attest that the workload is reasonable. This is graduate school. Feel welcome to communicate with professors but you cannot afford to not put in the effort. As long as they know you’re trying, they will help you. For example, in Mike’s class, I was doing well on the assignments, but I wanted to throw the textbook out the window. I expressed my sentiment to him, and he understood I did not have a theology background. We worked through it. Every single professor wants you to succeed, they truly do.

OK, now I get to talk about the fun stuff! I am the Student Engagement Committee student chair. Last year, I was sitting where you are. I decided to go to the first meeting, it’s really fun. Now, I’m in a leadership position. With my disability, I could have easily been the online student that no one really knew. That identify did not sit with me very well. Getting involved really and truly is rewarding. For one, I can walk into a classroom and have an idea of who that professor is and vice versa.  Your experience is so much richer if you get involved. We also need members to make the Student Engagement Committee work. Most of the Committee graduated last spring, so I hope you at least come to the first meeting. The first meeting is September 5th at 3 o’clock. We won’t have it the first week because that would be crazy but the second week on September 5th at 3 o’clock, please come. Getting involved only leads to good things. 
To sum up, everyone in the room is now your cheerleader. We need to be present. Get to know people. These professors have touched my life. This is a very devoted group of faculty that will challenge you while respecting your beliefs. As for me, I’m the woman using a wheelchair, who uses a communication device to speak, usually in pink, I’m real easy to recognize. I want to get to know you. I hope to see you around and chat.

Loyola University's Institute of Pastoral Studies is amazing and my home away from home. They did publish it in their blog which is so cool! Here is the link to their blog:

Happy Fall,

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

10 Years of Ms. Independent

This month marks 10 years since my parents dropped me off at Elmhurst College. What a decade! It's a dream come true and I wouldn't change a second. Here are ten independent moments that may not have made the blog at the time. 

1. I love to walk a nature path in my town. The first time I tried getting there was successful. Going back, I decided to take a different way home. Instead of being on the main street, I was in the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods all look identical. I kept saying to myself, I'm not lost; I'm turned around. Looking back, I was so lost. It took me two hours to get home.

2. I remember my first roller coaster without my family. My friends got me in a bumper car and it was so fun!

3. I did a lot of occupational therapy for multiple reasons; we worked on being able to dress myself. Throughout the years, the fact that I can change shirts independently has been so cool. To all the kids and teens in therapy, keep pushing even though it's boring. 

4. Taking trips to Minnesota with an assistant; that is ultimate independence. 

5. Minnesota was nothing compared to going to DC with an assistant. Usually it's a family affair to get me on a plane, when it's just the two of us, I feel very independent. 

6. Phi Mu. That was completely a decision I made for myself and I succeeded! Phi Mu recently gave me a $2,000 scholarship. My parents were really grateful for my decision to join Phi Mu when they found out about the scholarship.

7. I got to vote in my dorm room with a caregiver for the first black president. I will say to readers who do have a disability, mailing in your ballots is so easy. It takes a little research but it's easier.

8. Over the years, I've started to go to doctor appointments by myself. I just went to my neurologist by myself and my mother had held on to my neurology appointments as long as she could and this past April, she gave me her blessing to go independently. He got a kick out of my independence. I also got to choose my general practitioner; it's been so great of my parents to have that trust in me.

9. Choosing Loyola! I did that under the radar and it was a great decision that enriched my life. 

10. This blog. It is more a blessing more than a moment of independence. It's been a way to have the world truly know me. I hope high schoolers who happen to have a disability get a glimpse of themselves when I tell my stories. 

It's been a decade of dreams coming true. I would like the next decade to include marriage and family. I don't know what that will look like, but I didn't know what college and my twenties would look like ten years ago. It's going to be fun finding out what the next decade brings! 

I'll never stop being Ms. Independent!

Thanks for a decade of support, 

How Much You Care

How Much You Care   A community has eyes  Connect with those eyes  See their souls not skin color  Tell them how much you care A f...