Empowered to Succeed

Lindsey, Colton and Casey pose for a picture in front of the iconic columns at the University of Missouri.

Colton, his wife, Lindsey, and Casey, Colton’s service dog pose for a picture by the iconic columns at MU.

Colton just wrapped up his junior year at the University of Missouri. He’s studying Heath Sciences with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration.  Colton says his own experiences as a patient within the healthcare system lead him in his current academic direction. “I really enjoy helping people and I think I have a lot to offer in shaping future decisions on patient care.”

Colton says he always dreamed of attending MU. Through encouragement from his mother and after touring other college campuses, he knew he was meant to be a Tiger. “I’ve found the MU Disability Center to be a very helpful resource.” He credits his mom with teaching him from an early age what his needs are and how to advocate for them. “She helped prepare me for living as independently as possible by teaching me to understand what limitations I may have and how to overcome them by asking for the things I need to be successful.”

Prior to moving from his family home in St. Joseph, Colton worked with his team to put a transition plan in place.  This included transferring his services to Boone County Family Resources in the Fall of 2015.  Since his family had previously assisted with needed self-care and daily living tasks, his team looked at options available to meet these on-going needs.  His Support Coordinator assisted with enrollment in the Self-directed Personal Assistant Service.

Being a student using a wheelchair on a large campus, Colton says his day-to-day schedule takes a lot of planning. “I rely on a personal assistant to help with things like using the restroom. I have to coordinate my schedule in order to meet my PA at an accessible restroom in between classes— sometimes it gets tricky.”

Colton wants other students to know that attending college is not an unreachable goal if you start planning early: “I would recommend having in your IEP a goal to mimic the college experience as much as possible to prepare yourself for campus life.” One support Colton relies on currently is a designated note taker in his classes. “In high school, my para helped with class notes everyday. In college, each class has a student who is a designated note taker. Sometimes I never know who the person is because they prefer to be anonymous. If the note taker didn’t make it to class or it takes them a while to post the notes, I am up a creek!” Which is why Colton’s next piece of advice is to get to know people in each class. “Those natural supports really help if I get in a pinch. I can text or email a friend from class and let them know my note taker was absent and I need to borrow their notes.”

Colton and his wife, Lindsey, also a student at MU, met each other at Camp Barnabus and got married last July. They enjoy swimming at the student rec center, going to the movies, or doing anything outdoors. Going for walks and playing fetch with Colton’s service dog, Casey, are other favorite activities. The two of them are also active in a campus ministry group. Colton drives an adapted van which enables him and Lindsey to get out and about for shopping and going out to eat. “Maybe a little too much going out to eat,” jokes Lindsey.