Campus News

Disability Resource Center recognizes students, faculty, donors at annual reception

The Disability Resource Center awarded scholarships to 26 students at its annual Student and Faculty Recognition Reception Nov. 12 in the Tate Student Center Grand Hall.

The scholarships provide financial aid to students with disabilities and are funded by private donors who support the Disability Resource Center.

The Disability Resource Center provides services to students and helps them navigate disadvantages they face, both in academics and ­accessibility.

Kimberleigh Beard, a student with cerebral palsy, said the accommodations provided by the Disability Resource Center helped her achieve better grades and increased her confidence in navigating the UGA campus as a newcomer. Beard said the Radcliff Scholarship she received helps cover academic costs and lower student loan debt.

Many students with disabilities face increased costs while attending college, due to medical bills and additional accommodations necessary to manage their disability.

Akash Shah, a student and president of UGA’s NAACP chapter, has Crohn’s disease. He said although his disorder is a disadvantage, “it won’t stop me from succeeding and drives me to excel in every situation.” Because of the John and Frances Mangan Family Scholarship, he is able to work fewer hours at his part-time job and instead, “focus on the excellence I seek,” he said.

Many students recognized at the ceremony hold leadership positions across campus and described feeling compelled to raise awareness about their disability and campus diversity fostered by the Disability Resource Center.

Students like Adanech Spratlin, who lost her right arm and leg in a train accident, represent the disabled community by raising awareness about the obstacles associated with their disability, without letting it define their future, she said.

Taylor Bradish, who experiences seizures due to epilepsy, thanked the donors who made the scholarship she received possible and said her struggles helped her realize the importance of helping others. She volunteers with the Disability Resource Center to lead an epilepsy support group.

“It hurts to remember,” said Bradish, who was visibly shaken, as she referenced barely surviving a car accident caused by a seizure. She persevered through her speech and in her pursuit toward becoming a pediatric neurologist.

Bradish and Spratlin both explained the extra stress and pressure of attending college while coping with a disability, and said the Gregory Charles Johnson Scholarship allows them to focus on academics and their health.

In presenting the Outstanding Faculty Award to Elizabeth Wright, an associate professor of Romance languages in the Franklin College, Provost Pamela Whitten said Wright “represents the true spirit of inclusion.”

Wright thanked the Disability ­Resource Center staff and students who inspired her commitment to disability resources.

Whitten thanked donors for their support and making the scholarships possible. She spoke directly to the students and said, “though we are inspired by the challenges that you have, and continue to overcome we want to make sure that you know that when we look at you … what we see are University of Georgia students.”

In addition to Beard, Shah, Spratlin and Bradish, the following students received scholarships: Christopher Kotter and Brandon Mastromartino, the Michael E. Merriman Memorial Scholarship; Emily Schoone, the Elizabeth and J.C. Faulkner Scholarship; Alexandra Grainger-Garrett, the Gregory Charles Johnson Scholarship; Alexa Lee, the Orkin Family Scholarship; Aekta Patel, the Matthew Peddicord Memorial Scholarship; Ellen Barrow, the Dale Gibson Memorial Scholarship; Louis Conde, Angela Hall and Hannah Ruby, the Lupuloff Family Scholarship; Douglas Alt, the Margaret Ann Towson Scholarship; Katherine Hobson, the Joe Colie Scholarship; Paola Lopez-Aguirre, Wayde Smith and Erin Stacer, the Weldon Johnson Access Abroad Scholarship; Sydney Freeman, the Carey Louis Davis Scholarship; Danielle Brooks and Lavette Laflore, the Hamilton Family Scholarship; Michael Alfano and Alexandria Papp, the Choate Family Scholarship; Alison Anderson, the Margaret C. Totty Memorial Scholarship; and Matthew Lemer, the Lauren Melissa Kelly Memorial Scholarship.