MSU's Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities is celebrating 40 years of maximizing ability and opportunity throughout homecoming week by honoring successful alumni and partnering with Tower Guard for a homecoming float.
Tower Guard is MSU's sophomore honors and service organization that serves students with disabilities by reformatting course materials and tests, including Braille, large print and reading aloud, to make them accessible. The longstanding partnership between the RCPD and Tower Guard has created meaningful relationships and will be expressed with a homecoming float at the homecoming parade Friday, Oct. 21, starting at 6:00 p.m.
All week students from the Tower Guard and the RCPD will work together to build a float that showcases their teamwork and offers an opportunity for students from both groups to socialize with one another. The team is motivated to make the float exceptional this year because it will host an inspirational alumnus who participated in both communities during his time at MSU.
Aaron Scheidies graduated from MSU in 2004 as a world record setting tri-athlete, Tower Guard participant, and Outstanding Senior Award recipient. Scheidies was also registered with the RCPD as a student who is blind. He never let his visual impairment slow down his success during college, and he has continued to break stereotypes by earning a PhD in physical therapy and becoming a triathlon world champion.
MSU will recognize Scheidies with the Distinguished Young Alumni Award during the Grand Awards Ceremony, held at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center Thursday, Oct. 20. This award marks the highest honor an undergraduate alumnus can receive, but Scheidies will engage with students during his visit as well. The RCPD will host a reception for Scheidies before the Grand Awards Ceremony at their office in Bessey Hall from 4:00 p.m., to 5:00 p.m. This will offer students a chance to speak with Aaron about overcoming challenges and to congratulate him on his accomplishments.
Aaron Scheidies uses a CCTV to read his textbooks.
Aaron speaks with his family, Director Michael Hudson, and Student Jordan Castor at the reception.
"Aaron is an outstanding example of ability and role model for our students," Mike Hudson, director of the RCPD, said.
"He is a success story of passionately pursuing goals and making meaningful connections to the community through the RCPD and Tower Guard."
The exceptional year for MSU role models with disabilities continues through Alumni weekend as the MSU College of Human Medicine will dedicate a state-of-the-art, wheelchair accessible lab workstation to Yvonne Tarala, a former medical student and wheel chair user, at their alumni event to be held in the Secchia Center in Grand Rapids Friday, Oct. 21.
Yvonne Tarala, class of 1987 alumna, was a College of Human Medicine student who died March 10, 1992 at the age of 34 before finishing her medical degree. Tarala left a lasting impression on her classmates and instructors during her time at CHM. She challenged stereotypes in a field where people with significant physical disabilities are underrepresented.
The portable workstation will serve as a student wet lab and an instructor's station. It features inscriptions about Tarala to remind users of their unlimited potential as they work. The set up is too large to make the trip to Grand Rapids, but MSU's RCPD will supply a representation of it for the dedication ceremony. Joseph Ortiz, Yvonne's classmate, and Dr. Siew of the division of Human Pathology who was her instructor will lead the dedication.
The RCPD and Tower Guard invite the public to join them in celebrating these alumni and the success of a meaningful team effort 40 years in the making. Come to the homecoming parade to see Aaron Scheidies with Tower Guard and RCPD community members.
Tower Guard students prepare an RCPD tree made from scrap wood for the Homecoming float.
Tower Guard will also open Beaumont Tower for tours on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 1 p.m., to 5 p.m. Current Tower Guard members will guide guests through the tower and share its history as they are the only campus group with keys to the tower.
This homecoming week is a chance to celebrate 40 years of the RCPD, successful teamwork with the Tower Guard and two outstanding role models. Tarala and Scheidies overcame their disability challenges in passionate pursuit of success, and the RCPD and Tower Guard are determined to support other Spartans as they continue this legacy of success.