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Excelling in College with a Physical Disability

Posted on 7/6/2022 5:00:54 PM

Blog written by Samantha Sturkey ('25)

Happy Disability Pride Month! My name is Samantha Sturkey. I am a Sophomore, Psychology major.

For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed about attending college, but college isn't always an option for those with a disability. Luckily, I can say my dream became a reality this past year. I was born with Spina Bifida, a condition where the spine doesn't develop properly in the womb. Spina Bifida makes me a full-time wheelchair user.

Looking for a college wasn't easy; I needed to find the most accessible college, and I  wanted to be close to home. I also wanted to be able to remain involved in sports after playing wheelchair basketball for most of my life. I toured a couple of colleges before touring Cabrini University. During my tour, Cabrini made me feel different, like an indescribable feeling.

Accessibility was vital when looking for colleges. Cabrini was the University that checked all the boxes I was looking for in a school! Over the past year, I got to experience so many new adventures that I don't think any other college could have given me and didn't get in high school.

Sam and a friend in the library

I got to experience what living on my own was like, and I loved every second of gaining that independence. Cabrini's Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) was a massive help in getting me the resources and accommodations I needed to succeed. All of my professors were welcoming when it came to asking for help.

Starting at a new school can be difficult for anyone, but for someone with a physical disability, I was nervous about finding my place on campus. I was going to sporting and other on-campus events, trying to find the perfect fit.

A month into school, I got an email asking if I was still interested in being the manager of the women's basketball team. It was the quickest email I have ever answered. It was exactly what I was looking for, the ability to still be involved in sports.

When the end of the season came, the head coach talked about bringing in the basketball team I played on previously. We worked together and made an event happen. All the Cabrini athletes came out, and we played wheelchair basketball together!

Students play wheel chair basketball

I learned while at Cabrini that if they don't have something, they are willing to try and accommodate, and that's what I needed in a school.

One piece of advice I can give to incoming students with a disability is don't be afraid to be yourself and get involved. Cabrini will make you feel at home.

Read more about Sam's journey.