Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Thankful for the discomforts

A new perspective: Disabilities in college

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Thankful for the discomforts

(Sammy Racine/Daily Collegian)

(Sammy Racine/Daily Collegian)

(Sammy Racine/Daily Collegian)

(Sammy Racine/Daily Collegian)

By Sammy Racine, Collegian Contributor

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When I was growing up, I was always very interested in hearing my sister tell my mom all about her days at the many colleges she went to. Despite my curiosity, I felt as though I would never do well in college; I don’t feel like a very smart person.

It wasn’t until I heard about the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative program that I became truly interested in attending college myself. The program provides the opportunity for disabled students ages 18 to 21 such as me to get a college experience.

I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2015, and with the seizures I’ve had growing up, my brain has become very forgetful.

As I prepared to graduate from South Hadley High School in 2017 and students talked about their plans to attend college, I started to consider applying to the MAICEI program.

In April, I applied to the program at the University of Massachusetts and was accepted for the fall. College was as interesting as my sister made it out to be. I started in an introduction to writing course.

I quickly found the class to be difficult, but I know things in college can’t always be easy. It’s very interesting, but I struggle with the assignments and sometimes it just really makes me wish I could be back in high school, sitting at a desk rather than a large table. But I know it’s teaching me a great lesson for my future.

As I anticipated, the expectations at college are a lot different than in high school, especially with homework. Meeting with classes two days a week rather than every day makes it more challenging to remember what was talked about in class. I read, but it’s hard for me to do the writing assignments on my own sometimes, so I will often wait until the next day to get help with my writing. But it’s still so hard since I often cannot remember what I read.

Some of the homework may be due in a few days, or even the next day, and I really want to make sure I get it done by the due date. I try to stay calm, and I do very well it seems, but I often find myself getting distracted.

I also find getting to the University to be challenging. I live a little over 40 minutes away from campus if the bus were to take me straight here. I take a PVTA bus from home, and sometimes we may have to pick up other students, which I do understand, but sometimes the rides are very long. I end up feeling so worried about being late to class, though I know this is out of my control. Other times, it can be crazy how fast the bus drives.

One time, my bus got me to school so late on a rainy day. I walked into class soaking wet, and I felt so embarrassed being late.

The inconvenience of the bus system is one difficulty I manage regularly. As someone who can’t drive, I know this is something I have to deal with. Despite the several-hour commute some days, I am grateful to be brought to the college that teaches me things I need to know for my future.

While some things may be challenging and out of my comfort zone, I do still feel happy to be here. I’m thankful for the opportunities that have become available to me, like working closely with my peer mentor and photographing for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. I know I am learning how to go on in life as an adult with a disability who will never give up, and I’ll continue on feeling as strong as a superhero!

Sammy Racine is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]

6 Comments

6 Responses to “Thankful for the discomforts”

  1. Beth Cooke on December 6th, 2018 12:00 pm

    Wow, thanks for sharing this with us Sammy. We are so proud of you!

  2. Karen Geraghty on December 6th, 2018 12:51 pm

    Sammy this is so well written and expresses all that we know you can achieve!! We are all so proud of you. I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed the article. I appreciate how brave it is to speak your truth!!! Congratulations on the fabulous work you are doing in the MAICEI program, keep up the great work!

  3. Wendy Smith on December 6th, 2018 9:24 pm

    That was a very well put together piece! Great job!! Life can hand out some big challenges but not everyone has the ability to endure and see the beauty I’m what we DO have. You are an inspiration. Looking forward to reading your future pieces. ❤

  4. daniel murray on December 7th, 2018 12:23 am

    Keep it up! Let’s get disability normalized, one student at a time. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Nicholas Burgos on December 7th, 2018 7:49 am

    Sammy,

    In the short time I had the opportunity to teach you, I could clearly see the drive and determination you brought into class every day. When faced with a challenge, you never gave up, and you should take pride in that! You are doing a phenomenal job at UMASS, and this write-up proves that. Keep pushing yourself, Sammy!

  6. Nancy Gates on December 7th, 2018 8:32 am

    I am so very proud of you Samantha , you wrote a beautiful piece , you are so brave love you to the moon Great Aunt Nancy

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