Getting a graduate education can be challenging for anyone. But when one has a disability, the odds are stacked even higher against them. However, with a positive attitude and sheer determination, it can be done. This was recently proven by 22-year old Kirsten Barraclough, a university graduate born with cerebral palsy. She completed her degree in English from the University of Louisville, following four years of study.
Barraclough admits that getting to this place was not an easy feat. But she was determined, and her hard work paid off. While she has encountered substantial physical limitations due to her cerebral palsy, it has never impacted her mental capacity…or her determination to succeed. She said that the key was to “keep going,” understanding that nothing comes “magically.”
Thankfully, Barraclough has been given substantial support in her journey, which she says has been a huge part of the reason for succeeding against the odds. Her mother, Marilyn Barraclough, was there for her “every step of the day,” taking her to school and being her cheerleader. Perhaps not surprisingly, last year the University named Marilyn “Parent of the Year.”
Marilyn has actually enjoyed being a part of her daughter’s challenges and success. They have spoken a lot about her studies, which she feels has been a very “bonding” time for them both. With the help of her husband, Marilyn set up a study schedule, catered specifically to Kirsten’s needs, ensuring she was able to complete her studies with the highest level of independence. Indeed, the family’s kitchen has become a kitchen-cum-study, transforming it into a great learning environment. Her easel enables Kirsten to read closely and her laptop to go over lectures. With her education now behind her, Kirsten is planning to become a librarian.