‘People with disabilities can do phenomenal things’: JSU student with cerebral palsy graduates Summa Cum Laude
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - An Illinois native, whose grandmother is from Tupelo, lives with a disability that caused her to be bullied from childhood. But it did not deter the honor student from overcoming and excelling.
Diamond Dortch earned her diploma at JSU and now hopes to teach and inspire.
"I encourage everybody to persevere and push forward regardless of what anybody has to say," said the recent college graduate.
That's the philosophy of Diamond Dortch, a Jackson State University graduate who was born with cerebral palsy.
She underwent numerous surgeries and procedures in elementary school through high school that eventually allowed her to walk unassisted, and on May 4th she finished college Summa Cum Laude.
The Chicago native endured years of ridicule and grappled with self-esteem issues.
“It was difficult because a lot of people, they didn’t know what it was. They just knew that I was different,” said Dortch. “So I would hear kids making, like, little smart jokes about me. They would call me the cripple girl. There were a lot of girls named Diamond at my school for some odd reason, so when they wanted to let people know they were talking about me they would say, like, ‘the one with the limp.’”
But the Michele Clark Magnet High School honor student has a mother and support system who let her know she was always capable.
Her love for education and children will lead her to the classroom, teaching second grade in August at Bolton Edwards Elementary School.
“My teacher that I had in second grade was very impactful to me,” said the young, future educator. “When I did come back to school she crated a whole day about learning about my disability and what it was”.
While on full scholarship at Jackson State, Dortch visited Cape Town, South Africa and Tokyo, Japan. The 22-year-old, wise beyond her years, is compassionate about her struggles.
"Just embrace diversity and not shun it as something that is unacceptable or weird because people with disabilities can do phenomenal things," added Dortch.
On August 1st she will begin teaching second grade English and Language Arts. She plans to pursue her Master’s Degree, join the Peace Corps and teach abroad.
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