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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Courageous student goes down under

    Courageous student goes down under

    Amanda Parkman will embark on a 7,000-mile journey Wednesday, equipped with the confidence and perseverance she has expanded at the UA, as well as a wheelchair.

    Born with ontogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disorder, Parkman is wheelchair-bound. Rods reinforce her spine, arms and legs, supporting her fragile bones, which are prone to fractures.

    Still, she has resolved to travel alone for the first time in her life, to Australia, to study this semester abroad.

    “”It’s important to remember life is short – just do it,”” said Parkman, a junior majoring in family studies and human development. “”If you focus on why you can’t do something, you might never do it.””

    Through her active role on campus, Parkman said she has gained a strong sense of connection to the UA and campus life, which she will take with her to empower her on this adventure.

    In addition to being on the Dean’s List the past three semesters, Parkman has been a team leader with the UA Blue Chip, mentoring freshmen in success strategies; worked with the New Start Summer Program, meant to help low-income and minority students succeed; and been a desk assistant and resident assistant for Residence Life, among other affiliations.

    Parkman hopes she can encourage any student who thinks he or she can’t do something while in college.

    Whether the challenges are financial or physical, Parkman said she’s living proof that anything is possible.

    “”She is paving the way for other disabled students,”” said Melissa Ousley, a research analyst for multicultural affairs and student success. “”She’s a born leader. She amazes me.””

    When Parkman was researching to study abroad, she couldn’t find any information or statistics on disabled students. She realized she was heading into uncharted territory.

    So she started to ask questions at the Office of Study Abroad and Student Exchange to see if her desire to spend a semester in Australia was even possible.

    Through her research, she learned that it was not only something she could do, but something she definitely should.

    “”College is like anything in life,”” Parkman said. “”You get as much as you put in.””

    To cover the cost of the plane ticket, Parkman wrote a letter to local businesses explaining her situation.

    For the most part she got back rejection letters, but in the end, the effort paid off. Her ticket, costing more than $2,000, is being covered by a local businessman, whom Parkman declined to identify.

    Other aspects of her trip will be covered by grants and financial aid.

    Parkman, who will be flying for the first time since she was a young girl, said she’s a little nervous, but still very excited.

    To help other students learn from her semester abroad, Parkman will keep a blog. It can be read at adventurousamanda.blogspot.com.

    Upon her return, she will hold information sessions on campus to teach other students how to take the right steps to making student travel possible.

    “”It can be done, by anyone,”” she said.

    Parkman’s mother, Phyllis, feels the way many parents would if their child was about to leave for a new continent.

    “”I’m scared to death,”” Phyllis said. “”But I’m excited for her, too.””

    Besides missing her friends and family, Parkman says she is going to miss the beauty of the UA campus, although she is excited for the beaches of Australia.

    “”Take a chance,”” she said. “”You might be surprised with what you get.””

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