Written by: Molly Gase
“Fear the Roo!”
After four years at The University of Akron, I can honestly say that I have no fear of kangaroos. For me, it is more like “fear the stairs.”
Anyone who has ever met me knows that I am not just a klutz, but a very unlucky one. While at UA, I have been injured to the point of prolonged stints on crutches about nine times. I say about nine because some have moved quickly from the crutches stage to a bedazzled compression boot.
The boot weighs in at 11 pounds and makes you feel like a pirate. The boot and I have been in a tight relationship twice during my time at UA, once for three months and most recently this fall for nine weeks.
One may wonder why I am dwelling on the details of compression boots and crutches with a plethora of frequent flyer miles on them. Well, with commencement only a week away, I have been looking back on my time at UA and realizing that few of my memories do not include an injury.
I am not blaming my injuries on a cartoon Roo with anger management issues. No, I am just noticing a trend in my own personal experience with this place.
I began my time at UA as a double major in both public relations and dance. I quickly grew to hate the PR classes and loathed the idea of just BSing people as a main portion of my career.
I am well aware that this is not the whole point of that particular major, but it was just not for me. So, at my parents’ request (more a demand,) I shifted one of my majors to English.
Though I loved English and I have been very happy here as an English literature major, I spent the first two years of college determined to make something of myself in the dance world. My whole world was wrapped up in Guzzetta Hall until I really didn’t have much else. But then the injuries began, and with each bone to break, I was opened up to another portion of life on UA’s campus that I had missed in my narrow-minded pursuit of swans, gypsies and masquerades.
UA and I have coexisted in a fairly positive light. But I do have to point out that in my nose-dives down multiple staircases in multiple buildings on this campus (where other students will gladly and swiftly step out of your way as you tumble past), there are many challenges for the handicapped.
I speak on this topic not only as someone who has been frequently disabled, but also as a friend to someone who was unable to walk distances for months and as a daughter to a parent with an autoimmune disease that removes mobility to an extreme level. This campus is home to a majority of stairs on all of the fastest routes, with many fewer ramps, always far from where you need them. For those unable to move easily, this place is all uphill.
Fortunately, I have not fallen in months, at least not seriously enough to harm myself. This could be because I now know how to traverse this campus without bringing harm upon myself. Or it could be that I eventually learned to remove my blinders and opened my eyes to those around me.
Surrounding myself with a wall of friends who grab me when my feet slip out from under me and my arms swing like windmills caught in fast-forward alters the way I think about UA completely. College is not about what you achieve, but who is next to you to share those achievements with you. If you don’t have people around you to laugh off the tumbles, four years is a long and miserable span of time.
So, as I walk across the stage at commencement, thankfully in two shoes that match and not wearing any brace with the word “Ace” on it, I will walk surely. Because now I know that even if I fall face first that day, a hand will reach down to help me up and much laughter will occur later.
Thanks for the laughs, UA. They were painful, but at least now they are funny.