Theres so much more to me than a wheelchair, said Ashley M. Layne, an ACTC student in the university transfer program.
I have known I wanted to attend college ever since I was a little girl, she said. All of my family encouraged me, but perhaps no one more than my grandmother, Barbara McKinney, who taught nursing at ACTC for a number of years before her retirement in 2011.
Ashley is the daughter of Ashland residents Paula and David Layne, and she graduated from Boyd County High School in 2012.
My story has more chapters than most people due to the fact that I have cerebral palsy, Ashley said. In high school, I often felt that I could not keep up, and I often felt left out of certain activities.
I was unsure what would happen in college, because I know the dropout rate for college students with disabilities is significantly higher than that of typical college students.
My transition from high school to college was much easier than I ever imagined, she said. Heather Shelton and Lance Frazier, the Director and Assistant Director of Disability Services, and Joy Shytle, Academic Coordinator for Student Support Services, are always there whenever you need them.
I know I havebeen lucky in having so much support from my parents, Paula and David Layne, and in finding a college that offers so much support while still treating me like a regular person, Ashley said.
Support from Vocational Rehabilitation is vital of course, but the help Ive received from the people around me has made coming to college a joy.
The tutors assigned to me by Student Support Services have helped me get the most of math, my hardest subject. My math skills have gone through the roof because of accommodations like extended test time, scribes, and tutoring. My instructors in every subject go out of their way to help any student who needs it, so I get help without feeling handicapped.
Not only am I flourishing academically, I am developing social skills that I might not otherwise have had, she said. One of my most rewarding experiences has been to become involved with disability advocacy through Protection amp; Advocacy for Individuals with Disabilities. I know I am able to bring something to the table to help others in the future.
Ashley is a also member of the Student Government Association as the Student Senate Representative for College Drive, and she is involved with the Phi Theta Gamma Honor Society and Baptist Student Ministries.
She will graduate next summer with an Associate in Arts Degree and plans to transfer to Eastern Kentucky University for a degree in psychology.
Ive discovered a passion for psychology through my classes here, Ashley said. Instructors like Professor Uma Swanson have helped me not only with class work but with insight in how my brain perceives information differently. Its great to learn things that I can apply to my own life.
I think I would like to go into child psychology and help children with disabilities not only cope with their situation but discover their potential.
Id like to be an example for other people to get out and explore the world, Ashley said. I want to encourage people to get out and not let disabilities limit their vision.
Its sometimes challenging to try to do what other people take for granted, and I think that having cerebral palsy has made me more serious about life than many other people my age. Ive learned to go after what I want, no matter what the obstacles. Takeparasailing for example. It looked like fun, and it was.
My advice to other people with disabilities, or for any student actually,is to set the bar high for yourself so that you achieve more than you would have imagined.
Students with disabilities are not required to register with Disability Services at ACTC, but I recommend it, Ashley said. If you can get help to get ready for a better life, you should ask. If you dont ask for help, the answer is always no. Remember, you are in control of your own destiny.
Like so many other students, Im in college because I want to achieve as much as possible and be somebody, Ashley concluded. Everyone has a different path and different obstacles. Whats important is to keep going.