Carpenter Graduates Despite Challenges

Montana State University congratulates George Carpenter, Sidney, for receiving his bachelors of science degree in fish and wildlife biology during the spring commencement.

He will pursue a career in the field and is currently interviewing at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Bozeman.

He offered to tell us his story as a way to advocate for others who face barriers in the academic and physical environment. George's life changed dramatically in high school when he received a spinal cord injury in a diving accident on the Yellowstone River. After spending time at Craig Rehabilitation Hospital getting used to life with a wheelchair, George returned to Sidney and had incredible support there. "My family and the community of Sidney really stepped up and helped me out in ways I never thought possible, and this made the transition back into high school really smooth," he said.

George began college at Williston State and transferred to Montana State University to study Fish and Wildlife Biology. Despite the inevitable barriers he encountered in Bozeman including stairs, snow covered sidewalks and long distances to cover, he found friends and instructors who treated him with respect and expected that he could make it there. George says he has had an amazing college experience with a lot of fun and good times with his friends as well as challenging academics. His advice for those who follow him: "Find your friends and don't be afraid to ask for the help you need. Use your resources, they're out there. Stay positive."

Through Disability Services, George had accommodations for accessible classrooms and labs, note taking and an assistant in labs. He has tapered off those accommodations, and now uses his phone to take notes, drives himself to field classes and works independently in labs. He is the first to credit his instructors and teaching assistants for their positive support.

George's father and sister attended graduation to watch him wheel across the stage. His mother, Jill, his strong advocate and supporter, had a special seat in the sky for the ceremony.

 

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