Last time I said I will talk about college. Well, it will take several parts to complete college. People often say that high school you usually meet your life long friends. For me, that did not happen to me rather than it happened in college.
University of Illinois
I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This University is huge. When I went there, they had 35 thousand students. It was overwhelming at first, but you get used to it.
Why did I pick U of I anyway? Well, they had the first dorm that was built for students with disabilities in the country. Since I needed a lot of help, the staff at high school thought that the University of Illinois would be good for me. I have to admit that they were right. I am not saying that other universities did not have services for students with disabilities. U of I just had more to offer at that time.
The service at U of I was just alright I would say because when I went down to register for classes, they thought I was crazy for going into Computer Science as my major. They actually were trying to get me to change my major. I didn’t let them.
The dorm had premed students who lived with us and took care of us. The arrangement was great. For everything, nothing is perfect at first. Eating was not easy. You had around 20 students who had to learn how to feed me. Every year there all new aides so you had to go through the same struggle every year.
There were always good and bad aides that you had to deal with. One year I had one aide who we did not see eye to eye. I was getting him all the time. He always put me in my chair naked and I had to tell him everything to do. I have a routine so once aides learned my routine, they knew what to do every morning. This guy wanted to make my life hell. I knew that he knew what to do but he wanted me to suffer. I think I had him more than half of the semester. Once I rammed him in with my wheelchair the cafeteria because I could not take the abuse anymore.
Help in Class
I had no aides with me in class so I relied on the students for notes. They were paid for helping me in class. They were getting paid by the state. The notes were better than in high school for sure. One of the hard things that I had to deal with is the weather because I had to walk in the cold. I had to dress for the cold. The problem was that I had to keep my coat on during the class. The person who took notes for me would help me in the building and unzip my jacket. During the class, I would get so hot that I would literally fall asleep. That was not good for me.
The University of Illinois had a bussing system for me students with disabilities. They picked us up at the dorm. The problem was when the class ended because I sometimes talked to the professor after class. I usually had to walk back to the dorm or to my next class. The area is wild open so the wind blows really hard. When I walked in the wind. I was freezing. I don’t know how I didn’t get sick.
I started college in 1989 and computers were coming out. So doing homework was not easy at all. Back in my senior year in high school, I had a PCA named Sue, and she had a friend who went to U of I. His name was Steve and he was a senior. During the summer before going to college, we became friends and he asked if I wanted help with studying. I said sure so he helped me and got a few friends to help. After that, I made friends who later helped me.