Oct 312012


The Daily Reflector

Quanisha Brown, left, and Shawnte’ Davis search for a costume at the Halloween Express at the Greenville Mall on Tuesday afternoon. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

By Jane Dail

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

As thousands prepare for Halloween in downtown Greenville tonight, East Carolina University is planning bus services, alternative celebrations and a strong police presence to keep students safe and entertained.

Lt. Chris Sutton with ECU police said about 45 officers will work on and off campus tonight, estimating that 8,000-12,000 people will be on campus and downtown.

“It will be a large crowd,” Sutton said. “We probably won’t see as many visitors coming into the city of Greenville as we would see on a Friday or Saturday night, but we will see most of the student body. I would expect ECU, probably Pitt Community College and local people that may not have to go into work at an early time on Thursday. I think we’ll still have a large crowd.”

In addition to working with Greenville police and officers from other agencies downtown, Sutton said the ECU department will beef up its campus presence on foot, bicycles, in ATVs and patrol cars.

Sutton unveiled the new technology the department will begin using tonight, including four small video cameras that can be worn on glasses, around an officer’s neck and on uniforms.

“These will help us document the interactions we have. … We’re excited to start using these Halloween night. We’ll also use them at football games and other events.”

Officers can start and stop recording with the push of a button. Sutton said the cameras are “great quality” that work well in low light.

Officers with the new equipment will be patrolling near Mendenhall Student Center, the Student Recreation Center, parking lots and other high-traffic areas around campus.

Sutton said common issues police face on Halloween night include alcohol violations, abusing controlled substances, fights, assaults and sexual assaults.

“It’s important that our students don’t put themselves in a situation they don’t want to be in,” Sutton said. “If they consumed too much alcohol or (used) a controlled substance that will impair their judgement, then that will put them in a situation where they will not find an out.”

The university will provide bus service to help keep students safe and keep impaired drivers off the roads, officials said. The buses will run the same routes as the Pirate Express does Thursday through Saturday to student apartment complexes, with drop-off at Mendenhall Student Center.

Bobby Woodard, ECU associate vice chancellor of student involvement and leadership, said automated access to residence halls will be shut off starting at 3 p.m. today to 10 a.m. Thursday. Students will check in through the front desk area of residence halls.

The university also will host a free Halloween event from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. called Midnight Madness on campus. The alcohol-free celebration will include laser tag, horror movies, bowling, billiards, bingo, a buffet, a dance and opportunities for prizes.

“It is … an alternative to downtown mainly for our students who are under the legal drinking age of 21, a place for them to come out and enjoy Halloween costumes and so forth with their friends,” Woodard said.

The event is restricted to students with valid ECU 1 cards and guests registered before the event at ecu.edu/halloweek.

“This has been a great success for us … providing something safe for our students,” Woodard said. “The biggest thing is we just provide an opportunity for our students to enjoy an evening of fun and then, hopefully, a short trip back to their residence hall.”

Contact Jane Dail at jdail@reflector.com or 252-329-9585.

via The Daily Reflector.

Oct 312012


By Katherine Ayers

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pitt County Schools no longer is “officially” teaching cursive handwriting, due to the advent of the Common Core State Standards.

The schools had been teaching cursive writing in third grade, according to Cheryl Olmstead, assistant superintendent of educational programs and services. Because of new emphasis on 21st century skills, there is not a block of instruction reserved for handwriting in the curriculum. Instead, students learn to print and then transition to keyboarding skills in the third grade.

Olmstead said a team of teachers and instructional coaches are figuring out where cursive writing might fit into the new standards.

“The main thing is to have a recognizable signature,” she said. “Everybody is learning the standards this year, then we’ll know where it will fit (next year).”

Kate Dando, communications director with the Council of Chief State School Officers, said that while the standards dictate what skills students need to learn to be successful in college and careers, there is no guidance on how teachers teach those skills.

“The Common Core State Standards allow communities and teachers to make decisions at the local level about how to teach reading and writing (and mathematics), so they can teach cursive if they think it’s what their students need,” she said. “The standards define the learning targets that need to be met. … Teachers will determine how best to help students achieve those targets.”

One of the barriers to teaching handwriting in schools today may be that many teachers never learned how to teach it themselves. Denise Donica, an assistant professor of occupational therapy at East Carolina University, said a 2010 study she conducted reveled that only about 35 percent of teachers she polled said they received “some type of information” in college about how to teach handwriting.

Studies show that neurological connections are not as mature for students who learn letter recognition by looking at a keyboard rather than physically writing them, according to Donica.

“Plus the keyboard doesn’t have lowercase letters,” she said.

Many students still take notes by hand, and using a “blended style” — a combination of print and connected cursive letters — is the fastest way to write, Donica said. Handwriting also is easier than print for some children.

“Cursive provides a fresh start and another option,” she said.

Pitt County school board member Marc Whichard said the county needs to find the time to teach students cursive writing.

“It’s disappointing that when students have to sign their name, it’s a printed signature more often than not,” he said. “It’s unacceptable for students to not be able to sign their name.”

Whichard, also a principal at SouthWest Edgecombe High School, said America asks its students to be globally competitive, but then doesn’t allow time for students to learn fundamental skills.

“People need to understand the basic composition of a letter; it’s important for people to maintain strong writing skills,” he said.

Donica said she does not envision there being a time in which handwriting will not be a necessary skill.

“People will always write to communicate, whether it’s a phone number or a note to self,” she said. “I also think that in developmental maturity and academic skill building, handwriting is a culmination of so many different skills, the piece needs to be there.”

Beginning in the 19th century, cursive writing was taught in schools. Before then, many people were either illiterate or could read but not write, according to Tamara Thornton, a history professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo and author of “Handwriting in America: a Cultural History.” Printing was added in the 1920s and 30s, eventually becoming the method now employed — printing, then a gradual transition to cursive between the second and third grades.

Contact Katherine Ayers at kayers@reflector.com and 252-329-9567.

via The Daily Reflector.

Oct 312012

Published: October 31, 2012

UNC system studies cheaper ways to graduate more

By Jane Stancill – jstancill@newsobserver.com

CHAPEL HILL — A UNC system panel aims to set a goal for college degree attainment by 2020 – that is, the percentage of North Carolinians aged 25 to 64 who hold at least a four-year degree.

The figure was 28.1 percent in 2010, slightly below the national average and well below Massachusetts, the most educated state at 42.4 percent.

In the months ahead, the attainment goal will be decided by the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions – a group that includes education, business and government leaders, as well as one representative each from the faculty, student body and staff.


But achieving the goal is likely be expensive at a time when the state’s resources are strained and families face climbing education costs. On Tuesday, a UNC system subcommittee looked at ways to boost degree-earners in ways that are more efficient than enrolling students right out of high school for four to six years.

One major focus is likely to be increasing the number of transfer students from the state’s community colleges. Already, those who transfer to UNC campuses make up a quarter of the system’s students. More than half of those are from community colleges, but students also transfer to UNC from other UNC campuses, from out-of-state colleges and from private colleges in North Carolina.

“We can produce more graduates more cheaply if they transfer to us from a community college,” said N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson.

Woodson pointed out that at the University of California-Berkeley, one of the nation’s top-ranked public universities, the graduating class is much bigger than the entering class. The higher education system there has long established successful routes from community colleges to the flagship campus.

“California was way ahead of the curve,” Woodson said.

Transfer students who have earned an associate’s degree at a community college graduate at higher rates at UNC campuses than do other types of transfer students. But there are things the UNC system can do to smooth the pathway and increase success for transfer students, including hiring more academic advisers and creating better technology for students’ academic planning, said Kate Henz, UNC’s senior director of academic policy and funding analyses.

Henz also cited a successful program at UNC-Charlotte, called “49er Finish,” which seeks out adults who previously dropped out of the university. The former students may have left school for financial or personal reasons, but were in good academic standing. UNC-Charlotte has worked to re-enroll them, ultimately graduating hundreds.

A scaled-up version of UNC-Charlotte’s program could lead to faster degree production. There are more than 1 million North Carolinians who have some college experience but no bachelor’s degree.

Henz said the system could target UNC campus dropouts who are three-quarters of the way to a degree with at least a “C” average and try to entice them to re-enroll. That’s 27,000 people; if 10 percent ultimately graduated, for example, that would yield 2,700 new degree holders.

“It’s just how aggressively you go after and get them,” Henz said.

Another way to speed up degree production is to encourage more students to take courses in summer school so they can finish earlier.

Fayetteville State University Chancellor James Anderson said his campus is putting more emphasis on summer school, directing financial aid awards to students who can accelerate their path to a diploma through summer classes.

Woodson said campus leaders would like to fill more classrooms in the summer to make efficient use of space, but there is no state subsidy for summer school. Tuition has to cover the full cost, and at a higher rate, summer classes are not attractive to students. But, Woodson asked, why not discount summer tuition as an incentive for students to graduate sooner?

“It’s a blue light special,” he joked.

Stancill: 919-829-4559
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/10/30/2450762/unc-system-studies-cheaper-ways.html#storylink=cpy
Oct 312012

Wilmington Star News

Published: Monday, October 29, 2012

Editorial – UNCW students may have to dig deeper into their wallets – again

It’s become an annual ritual, even as families still struggle with stagnant incomes and rising costs of living. But next month the University of North Carolina Wilmington trustees will consider yet another tuition increase for students.

The latest request will come on the heels of a $527 increase – more than 9 percent – that took effect this fall, and follows a series of tuition hikes that continue to price students out of the market in a higher education system that under the state constitution is supposed to be “as far as practicable,” free to North Carolina residents.

Chancellor Gary Miller hasn’t said what type of increase he’ll recommend for next year – the board will get those details soon. And he offered a bit of good news, that student fees may drop because of a refinancing of debt on student housing construction.

But the price will increase by no less than $283, the amount the UNC Board of Governors approved as a “catch-up” fee to help offset a portion of the hundreds of millions in budget cuts by the N.C. General Assembly.

And therein lies the UNCW trustees’ dilemma. As lawmakers have reduced the share of the state budget that goes toward higher education, they have pawned off responsibility for making up the difference to the universities, which have chosen to raise tuition rather than make deep cuts.

This time, however, students were presented with higher tuition and devastating budget cuts. That is no way to treat one of the nation’s most respected public university systems, or the students of North Carolina.


Every tuition increase will force a certain number of students to drop out, postpone education or draw out their degree over many years rather than obtaining it in four years – thus delaying the ability to take full advantage of the employment advantages a college degree affords.

It is in everyone’s best interest for North Carolina to put a premium on educating any student who has the qualifications and the desire to seek a college degree. Our economy depends on being able to offer businesses a labor force of educated workers. That requires an investment in education at all levels, even when an economic slump makes that more difficult. We’re going in the wrong direction.

Budget cuts have gone beyond what is necessary to improve efficiency, and could have been softened had the Honorables allowed a 1-cent temporary sales tax to continue for a few more years. But students and their families cannot withstand repeated tuition increases to make up for the General Assembly’s budget cutting. To add salt to the wound, the state budget also cut money for financial aid.

North Carolina’s universities cost less than many other state systems, but in a place where the median income is lower than the national average, any tuition increase is going to hurt deserving students. In seven years tuition and fees at UNCW have increased by well over 50 percent, which is much faster than inflation.

If the trustees must consider raising tuition yet again, they should do so only after allowing students and their parents to talk about how higher tuition will affect their ability to complete their education. They should explain what programs or services may be cut if the additional money is not available.

And they must offer a plan to limit future tuition increases.

Oct 312012

 The Daily Advance, Elizabeth City

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

School Life: EC students attend media workshop

From Staff Reports

Students from Northeastern High School attended the East Carolina University campus to participate in a variety of workshops addressing media basics like news reporting and writing, as well as other areas like online publishing, yearbook design trends, sports marketing and social media.

This year, students had the opportunity to see the new multiplatform newsroom and studio in the School of Communication, located in Joyner East.

Robin Bronk, CEO of The Creative Coalition, keynoted the event with a presentation in Hendrix Theatre. As head of the nation’s top arts and entertainment advocacy group, Bronk has created partnerships with leading independent film producers and distributors that address national and global issues. She was also the 2012 Visiting Scholar for the School of Communication.

The workshop hosted breakout sessions with representatives from news and publishing organizations such as PURPLE! Magazine, WITN-TV, WTVD-TV, WNCT-TV, PIRATE Radio, as well as ECU School of Communication faculty. Caitlin Hunnicut, editor of The East Carolinian gave the closing presentation, “Getting the Scoop: Life as a College Journalism Student.

Oct 312012

Published: October 31, 2012

No evident of hazing in UNC-CH student’s death, police say

From staff reports

CARRBORO — Carrboro police say they have no evidence that hazing was a factor in the death of a UNC-Chapel Hill freshman who suffered a fatal fall Saturday night.

David Palmer Shannon, 18, of Charlotte, fell off an elevated conveyor at the Ready Mixed Concrete Plant on Guthrie Lane. Other students looking for Shannon found him and called police at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, spokesman Lt. Chris Atack said.

Witnesses told police that Shannon was seen drinking alcohol Friday night and early Saturday morning, Atack said. He may have been alone at the plant and appears to have fallen from the machine to the concrete surface below, he said. Alcohol could have been involved, he said.

Police officials released a statement Tuesday saying, “As part of any death investigation, all elements of the case are being examined.” “Hazing, in light of Mr. Shannon’s fraternity membership and the timing of the conclusion of the pledge process, has been one avenue that this investigation has explored. It is not the primary focus, and there is no evidence at this time to suggest that hazing was a factor in Mr. Shannon’s death.”

Preliminary autopsy results found Shannon’s injuries were consistent with a fall. Police initially said he fell 17 feet, but further investigation revealed he fell from about 40 feet, the release said. Toxicology results are not available yet.

Police do not think foul play was involved and ask that anyone with information about Shannon’s whereabouts or activities before the accident call Lt. Anthony Westbrook at 919-918-7417.

Oct 312012

Published: October 31, 2012

Lower costs lure U.S. college students to Canada, UK

By Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — More American teenagers are thinking about picking up a passport and heading abroad for their college years as a way of attending a top-rated school at a lower cost, Canadian and British college recruiters say.

More than 10,000 Americans are earning graduate and undergraduate degrees in Canada, and 15,000 are pursuing degrees in the United Kingdom. Even with extra fees for international students, colleges and universities outside the United States, in many cases, cost less than the tuition at private colleges or the out-of-state charges at public universities.

In some places, American student interest has gone up as tuition rates rise here nationwide and state spending for higher education declines. The University of British Columbia, for example, reports a 33 percent growth in U.S. applications since 2008.

Because of California’s “sagging economy” and cutbacks in public aid to higher education, “I am encouraging my students to look beyond our state’s borders, and that includes other countries, such as Canada,” said Jill Montbriand, a counselor at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento.

Annual tuition costs for international students in Canada ranged from about $14,000 to $26,000 last year, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

The average tuition last year at an American public university was nearly $21,000 for out-of-state students and almost $28,000 at a private four-year school, according to the College Board. The averages, of course, don’t show great variation of costs at actual schools, but specific comparisons between U.S. and Canadian schools can show more of a difference.

Montbriand was among thousands of high school counselors who attended the recent annual National Association for College Admission Counseling conference in Denver, attended by representatives from 28 Canadian universities.

“Students tell us they were looking for a top-ranked West Coast university in an outstanding location,” said Aaron Andersen, manager of international recruitment at the University of British Columbia. “When they realize it is also an international experience close to home, and an incredible value compared to many other comparable U.S. institutions, (that) often pushes UBC to the top of their list.”

An additional lure is that American students can work in Canada for three years after graduation.

Maegan Cowan, a senior at UBC from Oakland, Calif., said she originally wanted to go to New York University, George Washington University in Washington or UBC.

“And UBC, even with paying international tuition, was waaayyy cheaper,” she wrote in an email.

Tuition, fees and room and board at UBC this year are about $34,000. Tuition and fees alone at New York University and George Washington is more than $41,000. Room and board is extra.

UBCC also had an international studies program, just what Cowan wanted, and it was something “a bit different,” she said, “because it’s Canada but still has some of the comforts of home and familiarities.”

Lila Weintraub said she chose McGill University in Montreal because she wanted to leave her home state of Maryland and go to school in a city.

“Most schools fitting that description are extremely expensive, so even being an international student at a school in Canada ends up being much cheaper for me,” she said.

Both women said they faced some early challenges, such as the logistics of getting a Canadian bank account, phone plan and student visa.

McGill has 2,267 U.S. students, while UBC has more than 1,000 American students.

The University of Alberta, in contrast, has 68 undergraduate U.S. students, mostly from California, the Pacific Northwest and Texas. Texans often choose it for its engineering and science programs linked to the province’s oil and gas sectors, said John Soltice, assistant director for international recruitment.

The Canadian university has brought high school counselors from target schools in the U.S. to the campus for summer workshops for the past two years, and applications have increased. Tuition is about $21,000 per year.

“The main factor has been efforts by many Canadian universities and the Canadian government to increase awareness across the U.S. about the high quality of education in Canada, at a competitive rate at well-ranked universities not too far from home,” Soltice said.

Jack Whelan, director of college guidance at Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., who visited Canada’s booth at the guidance counselor fair, said he hasn’t seen an increase in interest among students.

“Actually, they may have been more popular a few years ago when the U.S. dollar was stronger, but now the value-conscious folks look much quicker at in-state public options or else safer private schools where a merit scholarship may be in the offing,” he said.

The Canadian government reports that enrollment of American students grew in the late 1990s until about 2007 and then leveled off, but it hasn’t dipped.

Tamsin Thomas, who handles education issues in the U.S. for the British Council, a non-governmental organization that promotes British culture, said more American students are interested in British universities every year. Thirty universities took part in a recent online recruitment fair, and recruiters from the United Kingdom travel around the U.S. talking with students and parents at school visits and college fairs.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, undergraduate degrees are finished in three years. Tuition for international undergraduates varies from about $11,000 to $40,000 per year. Many universities administer U.S. federal loans to eligible students, and American students are able to work in the U.K. while studying and during vacations.

Chris Payne, who opened the first U.S. office for King’s College London near Washington this summer, said the highly selective university has had many students from the East Coast, but that interest was picking up now from Texas, the Midwest and California as well.

“U.S. students are demanding more of an international experience than a (single-semester) study abroad,” he said. “Jobs can be anywhere now.”

Meaghan Couture, from Colorado, started studying at the University of Manchester in England in September 2010 and plans to graduate in July. She has a job answering questions from prospective students on the British Council’s Facebook page and on Twitter. One of the things she tells them is that an international education shows versatility, and employers like that.

“You stand out above the rest when your resume is on someone’s desk,” she said in an email.

Couture started out at a community college in Colorado while working nights at a restaurant. She transferred and studied for a semester at Metro State College of Denver but quit and worked in banking for six years. But then she went back to school – in England.

“What I really wanted to do (when I was in high school with big dreams),” she wrote, “was to go to an internationally recognized university, to travel the world and to spend a few years living abroad.”

Her tuition at the University of Manchester is about $17,900 per year. Had she gone to school in England right out of high school, “I would have saved a bundle,” Couture said.

“England has always fascinated me and now I can say that I’ve lived there, I’ve worked there, I’ve studied there and that I found myself there.”

Email: rschoof@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @reneeschoof

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/10/30/3892744/lower-costs-lure-us-college-students.html#storylink=cpy
Oct 312012

Published: October 30, 2012

From Education Life:

Campus as Obstacle Course

A Wheelchair Tour of Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa

Brian Lehmann for The New York Times
Alex Watters does a wheelie in a parking lot at his alma mater, Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. He damaged his spine in a diving accident freshman year.


THE specially equipped Dodge Sprinter pulled into the Morningside College parking lot, transporting my campus guide and his Quickie 646 SE motorized wheelchair. Alex Watters was returning to this small liberal arts college in Sioux City, Iowa, for a wheelchair tour of the campus he had navigated as an undergraduate. Our mission was to understand some of the challenges faced by students with a physical disability for a book I was writing on the first-year college experience.

I stuck my hand out. Alex could raise his arm but had no mobility in his hands, so I shook his outstretched fist. Freshman year, he had damaged his spinal cord in a diving accident and lost the use of his legs and hands. “Ready to go?” he asked as I grabbed my manually operated wheelchair, on loan from the nursing department.

“Ready as ever,” I said, not altogether sure how to operate the thing. As I struggled to get over the tiny ribbon of tar between the parking lot and sidewalk, Alex zipped around the lot doing wheelies, as if to say, “You have no idea what you’re in for.”

Motoring backward while talking, like an admissions office tour guide, he was contagiously optimistic. “Sure, I have challenges now,” he said, “but I’m not going to let them take over my life.”

ALEX WATTERS comes from Okoboji, a small town in the northwest corner of Iowa, on the border with Minnesota. He had applied to the University of Iowa and Drake but chose Morningside because he was heavily recruited to play golf. He had been captain of his high school team junior and senior years. When he arrived on campus — it was fall 2004 — he was full of excitement and expectation.

The second week there, Danielle Westphal — a classmate with whom he had won a dance contest during orientation — invited him to a family get-together on Lake Okoboji. He and a friend drove up to the cabin, arriving at about 10 p.m. As the guests toasted marshmallows around a bonfire, Alex and his hostess’s younger brother decided to go for a swim. The weather was beginning to get cold. He figured this would be his last swim of the season.

The two of them changed into their trunks and walked 150 feet out onto the dock. A gust of wind blew, and Alex’s hat flew off, landing near a boat hoist. He took off his shirt and dived in after it. But there was a sandbar. The water was only 18 inches deep. He heard his neck snap.

“I remember laying face-first underwater,” Alex said, a crack in his voice. “At first I tried to start swimming, but of course I couldn’t move. I thought, this was it. I’m a pretty religious person, so I was thinking, ‘I’m O.K. with this if it happens.’ And then I blacked out.”

At first the young boy thought Alex was playing a joke on him. Then he sensed something was terribly wrong. He ran back to the cabin to get help. They came running, and Danielle jumped into the water feetfirst and knelt beside Alex. He had now been under water more than two minutes. She turned him over and gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. E.M.S. arrived, and from the local hospital he was quickly airlifted to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.

“Next thing I remember are Mom and Dad and our pastor standing by my bed and the surgeon telling them about the operation I would soon have,” he told me. His spinal cord wasn’t severed but pinched. “Your spinal cord is like a banana,” Alex said. “If you bend it severely enough it won’t necessarily break but it will be permanently damaged.”

After surgery to stabilize the vertebrae in his neck, Alex underwent therapy for six months at a rehabilitation hospital in Denver. I asked him what he was feeling at this point. He and his parents had become interested in stem cell research, and the possibility he would someday walk again. “But I really didn’t want to live my life hoping I would walk again when the chances were I might not,” he said. “Even at that point, I was pretty happy with who I was and even then I was thinking about the possibility of returning to college.”

He took courses at Iowa Lakes Community College that summer, and the next fall returned to Morningside to resume his first year.

WE maneuvered our wheelchairs to the path leading to Roadman Hall, where Alex had lived next door to his assistant when he returned to college following the accident. “Since I cannot use my hands,” he said, “I needed someone constantly to assist me,” including taking notes and typing papers as he dictated.

“Wheelchair students like me usually get two principal accommodations: a handicapped-accessible residence and classes arranged on the first floor of a classroom building or a classroom building with an elevator,” he explained. “Since I was the first wheelchair freshman at the college in recent memory, we had some groundbreaking to do.”

Alex had wanted to live in the Plex with his first-year classmates, but rooms were not reachable by wheelchair. “Freshman year, most of my classmates lived in other buildings, and I couldn’t visit them,” he said. Roadman had first-floor rooms, and they were larger because they had once housed married students. Moreover, Roadman was closer to the student center and academic buildings he would use.

Trouble was, the rest of the first floor was occupied by upperclass women. “So I broke two barriers. Not only was I the first freshman in recent memory confined to a wheelchair, but I was also the first male to live in a women’s dorm!”

We approached the front door. The college had installed automatic openers for Alex, but he wanted me to see how hard it is to get through heavy doors without them. There would be many doors to push through on campus. “Try it without the door opener,” he said, “and you’ll see what I mean.”

I tried to push the door open using the footrests on the front of my wheelchair. But the door could be released only by pushing the bar in, and I couldn’t quite reach it. So I turned my chair around and tried it backward. After several tries, I finally leveraged the door open and squeezed through. Alex just grinned.

As we wheeled down the hall, he pointed to the door of the room where he had lived. The college had to replace the doorknob, which he couldn’t grasp, with a lever he could force down using his arm. People who have mobility in their hands and feet simply take these things for granted. In the bathroom down the hall, he demonstrated what he had to do to hoist himself into the shower and onto a small plastic chair he set in the corner.

“Since my hall mates were women, you should have seen how I got here. I had to strip naked and then streak down through the hallway in my wheelchair hoping no one entered at that moment.” He laughed as he said this, then paused. “Well, that’s not quite the story. I did put a towel over my lap.”

My arms were beginning to ache as we left Roadman and headed toward the nearby Olsen Student Center. As we started to cross Peters Avenue, a car driven by a woman talking on her cellphone sped through the crosswalk without stopping.

“Can you believe?” Alex shouted, flipping his wheelchair in reverse. “This happens all the time.”

At the ramp up the front side of the student center, he cautioned me not to run off the concrete and into the flower beds. “Once, during the winter when it was icy, I slid off into a snowbank,” he said. “I could have been buried alive for months!”

He pulled his chair to a place about 25 feet beyond the dining hall entrance and faced the wall. “When I came here as a freshman, there was an elevator right here that could take me to the floor below where student meeting rooms are located. During the time I was attending school, they took out the elevator to make the entryway and dining hall more presentable, figuring all they needed to do was provide a handicapped-accessible bathroom on this floor. Can you believe they took out the elevator?” He was clearly angry. “I now had to drive around to the back of the building to access the lower floor.”

We left the student center and headed next door to the Robert M. Lincoln Center, a classroom facility near Roadman where Alex took most of his classes. Scheduling class sessions there for him was one of his most important accommodations. Because cost can be prohibitive, most colleges and universities retrofit only essential buildings and have few academic buildings that can accommodate a wheelchair. Currently, five of Morningside’s 1,200 undergraduates have a mobility impairment; one is in a wheelchair. Of the campus’s 21 buildings, eight are now accessible, including a new residence hall (though it’s down a steep hill); three are partly accessible.

We entered a first-floor seminar room and settled around a table. I really needed the rest.

I ASKED Alex about his mind-set when he arrived back on campus in a wheelchair.

“I immediately faced two challenges, one physical and the other psychological,” he said.

“On the physical side, there were no door openers in campus buildings. You just experienced firsthand what it’s like to open heavy doors when you are in a wheelchair. You can imagine how impossible it was for me in the beginning.”

“But perhaps the most significant challenge was psychological,” he said. “For example, when I went into the cafeteria for my meals, I refused to use eating equipment designed for quadriplegics. Instead, I insisted my assistant feed me on the ludicrous notion that I would look less disabled if she did. I was terrified that people might stare at me if they saw me using this contraption.” He motioned to a strap with an attached spoon that he keeps in the pouch of his wheelchair. “But they stared at me anyway. As you can imagine, it took time for me to get comfortable with my new image.”

Seats were taken out of Lincoln Center’s amphitheater to make space for Alex’s wheelchair at lectures. Morningside also created a turnaround space in the seminar room where we were now seated. “So in class here, I had to sit in front of the room and consequently every move I made was in full view of the class.” As he said this, he was manipulating his chair to a horizontal position, much as one can in the first-class cabin on an international flight.

“Especially in long classes, I had to shift my weight as I am doing now so that my blood could recirculate,” he explained. “People who are mobile rarely think of it, but no one can stay seated in the same position for one or two hours straight without moving. But if you are in a wheelchair, you are stuck in the same position. So periodically I have to mechanically shift my weight. But now imagine doing this in the front of class. All of a sudden, people are staring at you, not listening to the professor. Believe me, this can be humiliating.”

I asked Alex what advice he had for disabled high school students contemplating college. He had obviously been asked this question many times before.

“Get over your fear of talking to people,” he said. “You’ve got to be O.K. asking strangers for help. Most people want to be of assistance anyway. It makes them feel good. Plan things out. Talk to your professors and ask them not only what you need from them, but what they need from you. Build a support system by joining a fraternity, like I did, or by participating in a club.”

What about dating?

“My way of meeting women now is the same way as when I could walk — confidence,” he said. “Women love men who are confident. I can’t do little things like holding hands to show affection. So I play to my strong suit. Holding hands just isn’t one of them. But having confidence, like being able to carry on an intellectual conversation, is.”

I believed him. During the tour, young women — lots of young women — came running over to greet him.

And what of the future?

Alex was quick with his answer: “Before I die, I want to accomplish eight things in life. Lobby Congress around handicap access. Be an activist for organizations that work for the disabled. Be a nationally known motivational speaker. Write a book about my life. Work with juveniles around conflict resolution. And own a golf course, bar and restaurant.”

We wheeled out of Lincoln Center to make our way back to his van, but I got stuck in the grass and couldn’t move an inch. Alex shook his head.

“Watch this,” he said as he flipped his wheelchair into high gear and raced across Peters Avenue at about 12 miles an hour.

THIS fall, Alex is a paid field organizer for the Sioux City arm of Organizing for America, a community group working on President Obama’s re-election — “my first full-time job!” he exclaimed in a phone conversation. Since our tour at Morningside, he has completed his master’s degree in conflict resolution at Creighton University in Omaha and served an internship at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

“My life seems to take these incredible turns,” he said.

Now 26, he feels he is facing his biggest challenge. “I was able to persevere through college and graduate school,” he said, “but the scariest thing has been transitioning into the job market. I have great intentions, but getting a job is so frightening to me. With my disability, I constantly worry about whether I will be able to use my education.”

He had recently applied for a position as a diversity consultant at a large state university. “One of the requirements of this job is a driver’s license,” he said.

Then he added, “I haven’t let that stop me before.”

A few weeks later, he told me he was turned down.

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Roger H. Martin is president emeritus of Randolph-Macon College and author of “Racing Odysseus: A College President Becomes a Freshman Again.”