My name is Will Shawhan and I am starting my fifth year as an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am majoring in Agricultural and Resource Economics and am minoring in Geographic Information Sciences. This semester, I am taking Scope and Methods of Political Science Research, Remote Sensing, and Natural Resources and Public Policy. I am particularly excited about my Remote Sensing class because I enjoyed learning how to use ArcGIS in my GIS classes and the software that I will learn how to use in Remote Sensing is similar to ArcGIS.
My experience as a student with Cerebral Palsey at the University of Maryland has been very good. All of the buildings where I’ve had classes have been wheelchair accessible, so I’ve had no problems getting to my classes in my motorized wheelchair. Every semester before the COVID-19 pandemic made most in-person functions unsafe, I asked my counselor with the University’s Accessibility and Disability Service (ADS) if she could ask someone to put 32-inch high wheelchair accessible desks in my classrooms. I could easily pull up to these desks in my wheelchair and take notes on my laptop while I was in class.
One thing that has been tough has been finding time to do everything I have to do. Cerebral Palsey makes it so I can’t physically do things as fast as my classmates who don’t have disabilities can. It is helpful to have the Reduced Courseload Accommodation so that I am considered a full-time student while only taking nine credits each semester instead of twelve credits for which undergraduate students must register if they want to be considered full-time and don’t have that accommodation. I am also trying to find a good balance in how I spend my time during the semester but that can be hard because there’s so much I want to do.
I am still deciding what I want to do after I graduate, but some causes that interest me include reducing food waste, protecting the Chesapeake Bay, and advocating for more accessible housing spaces. I am going to focus on learning all that I can in my classes this semester and seeing both what internship opportunities there are and what careers interest me the most. The University Career Center on campus has a lot of great resources to help students look for jobs and internships as well as advisors who can answer any question that students might have. Overall, I am very glad that I enrolled at the University of Maryland and I look forward to what I can do there between now and when I graduate.