My first year at MacEwan was pretty rough. I was a transfer student taking senior-level courses, but in some ways I felt like a first-year student. I didn’t know the campus, the professors or my classmates. I felt lonely and adrift. Compounding the situation was the fact that I am blind and live with anxiety.
As students with disabilities, we fight tooth and nail every day to be in our classes and to complete our course work. It is difficult, exhausting and stressful. However, I encountered many professors who accommodate without question, are open and accepting, adapt their teaching style willingly, and desire to see everyone succeed. Even in courses with visually complex aspects, my professors were determined that I could succeed at mastering the material. Their belief in me inspired me to continue through the hard times. And those professors were right. In every single class that someone doubted I could take because I am blind, I earned an A+.
To all the disabled students out there embarking upon their post-secondary journeys, I want to let you know that there will be frustrations, obstacles and embarrassments. I, too, have cried alone in the hallway, experienced defeat, and felt like there is no one to turn to. You are not alone though. There are people out there who will listen to you, believe you, and support you. Access barriers are not your fault. You are not a bad person for doing what is right for you, whether that is standing up or backing down. Only you know what it is like to inhabit your body and your life. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’ve got this!
– Melissa Banks, Bachelor of Arts, English ’20 and Dean’s Medal recipient
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.