A Day in the Life

By Brandie Kimball

My friends, family, and teachers have always encouraged me by expressing how proud they are of how much I have accomplished and succeeded beyond so many expectations, despite what I have had to overcome. I always become embarrassed during these moments, not knowing what to say; I usually smile and say, “Thanks.” When I was two years and eight months old, I was diagnosed with an underdeveloped retina, resulting in legal blindness. Although people who care about me often worried when I tried new things, I was still treated as a person who was able to do everything anyone else could do. I have had to adapt to many things in my life, but have never had a problem doing so successfully.

One of these experiences to which I am referring is when I moved four hundred miles from home to attend the University of California, Santa Cruz, which was a very scary experience. I had been in special education classes from kindergarten to third grade, at which time I was mainstreamed into regular classes with one teacher and thirty or more students. Although I was no longer in special education classes, I still had a leader, who was an employee of the county that made sure I had all of my class materials enlarged and put on to tape. In going away to a university, one can imagine then, how for the first time, I had to navigate a new city and figure out how to succeed in college on my own.

To my surprise, I quickly found that at UCSC I was far from being on my own. Before the first week of classes, I met with a coordinator at the Disability Resource Center. We discussed the types of accommodations I had had in the past. At this meeting, I was no only assured that I would have more accommodations than I had before, but I was also given the information I needed to navigate the city—such as Lift Line, the inexpensive door-to-door bus service for disabled and elderly people.

Now that I am in my final year at UCSC, I am pleased to report that, as promised, I was given services that helped me to succeed. I had a notetaker for every class, books-on-tape, proofreaders, and extra time on tests. I am the first to see that without the help of the DRC, I would have never been as successful as I have been the last three years. Everyone, from the coordinators to the student employees, was always so nice and willing to help with anything they could. They even went beyond their jobs at times by helping me do things such as filling out forms for accommodations for the law school test.

I will be graduating this June with over a 3.0 GPA and with several acceptance letters for law school. As I now look to what will come in the future, I remember the Friday afternoons when I would stop by the DRC to pick up notes and tapes, and chat with the people I have gotten to know there over the years. I know that by the way that I was raised, and with the motivation that I have, I will always succeed. But I couldn’t have done it alone, and must thank the DRC for making it a lot easier by always being there to help, and by providing the resources I needed to reach my greatest level of success.