Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why 2012 is the magic year for an adult learner with disabilities

Jon Savoy was seven years old when he was involved in a car accident that has changed his life forever. The right side of his body shakes. His ability to speak and write clearly was diminished. But on May 5, at the age of 36, he will don his cap and gown, and walk with the Post University Class of 2012 to receive his bachelor's degree in human services.

Jon has obviously faced his fair share of obstacles in life. Yet, he is outgoing and outspoken. He has tenacity and perseverance. And he'll be the first to tell you his disabilities have made him a leader, because he's been forced to overcome his physical challenges and think outside of the box to accomplish his goals.

We'd like to you to meet him. Watch our video interview with Jon, where he tells the story of his accident, how he gave up on going to college, and what made him change his mind and commit to earning his college degree. We encourage you to stay tuned until the end. You'll see why.



We wanted to feature Jon's story on our blog not only because it's inspirational and uplifting, but also because Jon is an example of someone who sees higher education as a means of creating a personally rewarding future. He's now armed with knowledge and skills to get a job in his field of study and continue to make a positive impact on others.

Jon attended our Main Campus in Waterbury, and was able to tap into the array of services offered through our office of Disability Services to make completing his degree possible. And as you'll hear in the video, he also found at Post a welcoming community in which he could live, learn, and thrive.

Congratulations, Jon.

For all our readers, you can also read the transcript of our interview below.



Bob: Hi, everyone. I'm Bob Sembiante, Communications Associate at Post University. I am here on the beautiful Waterbury campus of Post on our porch of our Torrance Hall, our admissions building, and I'm here with Jon Savoy. Jon is an adult learner who will be receiving his bachelor's degree in human services. This May he'll be walking in graduation here on our campus. Jon, it's a pleasure to meet you.

Jon: A pleasure meeting you, Bob.

Bob: Thank you. Jon is an adult learner. He's 36 years old, and getting his degree. He has quite a unique story to tell and I'm actually very happy that you're here, Jon, to tell your story. There was an incident that happened early in your life which affected you greatly. A lot of people are faced with obstacles that come up as they grow up, and you had a unique one that happened to you early on. I believe you were 11 years old?

Jon: Seven.

Bob: Seven years old. You were seven years old. Would you tell us a little bit about the accident you have that became such a turning point in your life?

Jon: Yeah. I was seven years old. I'd just gotten out of school and I was going to my friend's house, but I never quite made it to my friend's house. I was hit by a car.

Bob: On your bike you were hit by a car.

Jon: Yeah.

Bob: Do you remember the moment happening?

Jon: Yes, I do. And when I got hit by the car, me and my bicycle flew up on the car's hood. I made eye contact with the driver, Andrew. He panicked or whatever, hit the brakes, sending me and my bicycle flying on the hood and landing 10 feet down the road. I snapped my vertebrae, had a massive heart attack, and grand mal seizures. I broke both legs, but I was told that I died several times on the way to the hospital. I remember the doctor telling my parents that I will never walk, talk, go to school, brush my teeth, or do any of those types of things.

Bob: Those are some extensive injuries that a seven-year-old boy has to deal with. And you're here now at age 36. You've come a long way. You're sitting here having a conversation on the college campus where you're going to graduate, which is pretty amazing. And I'd imagine that physically you had some obstacles that you had to overcome along the way. But I imagine that in society you had some obstacles to overcome as well. And I'm wondering which ones were harder to deal with? The changes you had to deal with with your family and friends accepting what happened to you, or the changes in your body?

Jon: To me, it is no dramatic change, because it happened to me when I was young and when you're young you have a better chance at bouncing back and that's what I did.

Bob: Do you remember how old you were when you decided to go to college? Was it right after high school or later?

Jon: Right after high school.

Bob: And did you immediately come to Post?

Jon: No, I didn't. I first went to Naugatuck Valley Community College which is a two-year college. But because of my obstacles and the challenges that I'm facing, I had to take another approach.

Bob: Now because you talk about the different challenges that you face, your time at Naugatuck Valley Community College took longer than average. You took 16 years there at Naugatuck and then you decided you wanted to continue.

Jon: Yes. But the reason it took 16 years was because I gave up. I just gave up on everything back in '98.

Bob: When you say you gave up everything, you mean your studies?

Jon: I gave up on college. I gave up on just about everything in '98. And a friend of the family saw me and he said, Jon, what are you doing? Nothing. I want to go back to college, but I don't have the money. And he goes, how much do you need? And I told him. And a couple weeks later he sees me walking down the street and he picks me up and we go in his bank and he takes out the money that I need and he goes, you can go. Go back to school with it. Which is what I did for him, and I've just been plugging along ever since.

Bob: You've obviously made some connections here with people. Are there any thoughts about the faculty or fellow students you've met here that you'd like to share?

Jon: The faculty and all the -- everybody at Post is -- I love them because they made me feel like such a part of their family. They were touching to me. It meant one of my own. One thing that I'm going to miss about Post is how everybody looks out for everybody and it's how, like, everybody here is like one big family and it's very touching.

Bob: Everyone in a university setting has their own challenges. No matter what age they're at, they bring their background here to the university and everyone faces different challenges -- some more than others. You've experienced that. Do you have any advice for any other college students, whether they be undergraduate or graduate, about overcoming obstacles and setting the goal like a college education?

Jon: Never give up and if you want something bad enough you can achieve it.

Bob: Jon Savoy, wow, you have absolutely -- you've blown my mind today. You have an incredible story, you have an incredible energy and way about you and I think there are a lot of people who can learn a lot from what you've gone through in your life. Thank you for talking with me today.

Jon: Thank you.