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A snapshot into my world!

Always looking for the next adventure

A corner and a button in case of emergency is the title of my first book! I am currently finishing up a documentary photojournalism class and each student got to pick a subject and a format for their project. I documented, photographed, wrote and designed the book. Our final products are due tomorrow (cringe…deep breathes…) so I wanted to share a little forward before I release it. Though I do not feel it is completely finished (I think for this project to feel finished I would have to spend years on it) I am happy to share it!

I decided to do my project on access for students with disabilities. I sort of fell into this subject but I am so happy that I decided to pursue it. I worked with a variety of people at the University of Montana, a few including disability services for students (DSS), the UM chapter of America’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) team, transportation and housing along with a few wonderful students who have disabilities. At this time I would like to extend a special thank you to John Pielaet, Mark Boatman, Kiira DeVries and Kye Weber. Without each of them this project would not have been possible!

Through the few months I’ve worked on this project I learned more than imaginable. More obviously, I learned about the actual access and struggles that students with disabilities face on an everyday basis. But, I think there was a greater lesson learned here. I worked with students who face some of, what could be, the most disheartened situations such as living with muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy or blindness. To be completely honest, at times, I was a bit saddened by some of the obstacles these students have to overcome to do simple tasks. I was upset with my selfishness. But then, I felt guilty for feeling bad. I was not going to be a person who patronized or felt pity towards people who have disabilities. If I learned anything from this project it’s that most people with disabilities do not want that. People with disabilities are just people who face a greater obstacle than most — there is no need to categorize or label. As one student said “everyone has their issues.” Now, is that the truth or what!

I learned about aliments, struggle, overcoming odds and access — probably most of the clichés everyone would expect. But, what I think I learned most from this project was appreciation. I, of course, was reminded to appreciate the basic abilities that many people take for granted— the ability see, the ability to walk.  But, more importantly, what I learned to appreciate is the perspective and attitudes that people face life with. Each student I worked with has a different back-story and a different path. Jon’s sense of humor and willingness to help hooked me. Mark’s fight to never give up has helped him to be the first person in his family to receive a four-year degree — in journalism no less. Kiira’s contagious laugh, warm personality and beautiful music makes you want to be around her. Kye’s honest and openness about who he is rare at our age, especially in a college setting.

Each student I worked with is someone I would want to be friends with because of their character, and solely their character. I am appreciative for people like this who remind me of what I stand for, who I am striving to become and who make me a better me.

In the words of Mark Boatman “I think a person has a positive outlook or they don’t — there’s no secret. You have to decide if you’re going to live life and enjoy the experience or dwell on the negatives.” Well people, it’s as simple as that. Now, go live (and stayed tuned for my book)!

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