For most of her life, Roosevelt University student Corrie Harris has relied on a wheelchair for her mobility due to cerebral palsy, a debilitating condition that has left her unable to walk on her own.
The limitation, however, hasn’t stopped the 25-year-old Heller College of Business marketing major from pursuing her dream of becoming the first in her family to receive a college diploma – an accomplishment she will achieve on May 2 when she graduates at Roosevelt’s Auditorium Theatre.
“Corrie Harris does it her way. She doesn’t ask for or receive any major accommodation in spite of her significant disability,” said Roosevelt marketing instructor Jeffrey Heilbrunn, who has had Harris as a student in his marketing research and sales management classes. “She always did the same assignments as my other students,” added Heilbrunn. “And often she does it with more dedication and heart than the others.”
Most weekdays mornings, starting out at around 9:30 a.m., Harris takes a Pace paratransit bus from her home in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood to attend classes at Roosevelt’s Chicago Campus. She usually doesn’t arrive back home by bus before 10 p.m.
“Some days aren’t as easy as others, but I manage to get around the campus and a lot of times Roosevelt students are there to open doors so I can get to where I need to go,” said Harris. A 2006 graduate of Percy Julian High School and a 2010 graduate with an associate’s degree from Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, Harris credits her family as well as those she has worked closely with at Roosevelt for giving her support that has contributed to her determination to obtain a four-year college degree.
“I’ve never seen her have a bad day,” said Nancy Litke, director of Roosevelt’s Academic Success Center where Harris regularly studies and completes her homework. “She’s always smiling, cheerful, happy and patient. She’s pretty amazing,” said Litke.
Harris also works part-time in one of Roosevelt’s computer labs, answering students’ questions about everything from getting on the Internet to printing their papers. “She’s a great worker and very reliable,” said Andrew Kuehling, a user services specialist at the University.
She is also a member of Roosevelt’s Project Prime program for students from low-income households and frequently volunteers at Roosevelt as a student ambassador for campus safety.
After she graduates, Harris hopes to work in sports event planning or in an events planning office as an administrator. She’s already begun applying for jobs even though her graduation is still nearly a month away.
“Getting this college diploma will mean a lot to me,” said Harris, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in marketing. “Above all, I hope it will show others that no matter the situation, you can always keep going. If you keep going, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve,” she said.
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