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Changing Perceptions and Breaking Barriers

Bopen. Because some visionaries are blind, because some communicators are deaf, because some movers and shakers are paralyzed. Because the only true disability is a mind stuck in the closed position.”

I don’t know who first said that quote, but I do remember the first time I heard those words. I was a recent Drury graduate who had just joined AmeriCorps and moved to Utah to work for a nonprofit that provides outdoor recreation opportunities to people with disabilities.

Since then I’ve witnessed Kevin, a man who is blind, continue to push himself and conquer increasingly difficult rock climbs. Santi, a young man from Thailand, shoot a bull’s-eye with his teeth after losing his limbs in an accident. And DeDe, an 88 year-old woman with hip dysplasia, brave the rapids of the Colorado River to complete her bucket list.

Looking back on overcoming my own “barriers,” it was Kevin who was with me as I challenged my fear of heights to climb a giant Ponderosa Pine tree and jump from 30 feet (harnessed and tied to a rope, of course). DeDe was with me as I allowed myself to be vulnerable and apply for an instructor position with the U.S. Department of State to teach archery in Thailand where I had the opportunity to ride an elephant and cross off one of my own bucket list items. And Santi will be with me as I encounter more challenges that, at first, seem impossible.

Over the years these individuals have all had an influence on me, but their will and spirit to “be open” has been, and continues to be, my greatest mentor.

Susie Schroer ’05

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