For Kevin Sullivan, fifth year mass media radio major, the daily grind of college life is especially challenging since he relies on a wheelchair to get around campus.
“Right off the bat [the wheelchair] is what people notice, but then they talk to me and they realize I’m just an average guy,” Sullivan said about his interactions with peers.
“I still go to college. I still go out on the weekends, just like everybody else.”
The Buffalo Grove native was born with Arthrogryposis, a physical disability that Sullivan said has mostly affected his ability to build muscle strength.
Even though Sullivan is able to walk, he chooses to use a wheelchair to save time and energy.
“I’ve been carried up more than my fair share of stairs, but it is what it is. You’ve got to make the most of it,” he said.
His physical disability is not stopping Sullivan from following his dreams.
Currently, Sullivan is president of his fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and he announces for WZND, ISU’s student radio station.
“I’m your average guy. I’m not anything special, and I prefer to be treated as just every other person. I don’t want special treatment just because I look a little different than everybody else,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan plans to graduate in May and hopes to find a job in sports radio.
“Ideally, I want to be a play-by-play broadcaster for a baseball team. Ideally, it would be for the Cubs.”
In his free time, Sullivan says he loves hanging out with his friends, watching the Hawks, the Bears and the Cubs “when they don’t suck.”
Danielle Ryan, junior special education major, has been one of Sullivan’s personal assistants for two years. His assistants help him with everyday tasks like eating and showering.
“Kevin literally amazes me day after day,” said Ryan.
She said knowing Sullivan has made her appreciate the little things about college life, like the ability to walk across the Quad, and so much more.
“Kevin is a really positive person,” she said. “Some would say it would be a struggle having to use a wheelchair, but he really makes the best of it. He knows that he has to use a wheelchair to get around, and he doesn’t have a problem with it because he knows there’s no other way.”
Sullivan believes that all students should be less judgmental about students with physical handicaps.
“Don’t assume. I think a lot of times people get caught up in stereotypes and think that everyone in a wheelchair must have a mental handicap. Don’t get caught up in the stereotypes,” he said. “Make your own decisions regarding it and just be friendly and treat us like you would treat anyone else.”