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Samantha Hasselbusch ’10 Overcomes Obstacle

August 4, 2010

Samantha Hasselbusch ’10 is the newest member of the public relations office at Copeland Oaks in Sebring, OH. Not only did she graduate from Mount Union armed with the skills to succeed, she did so with an extra obstacle to overcome. Sam is blind.

A graduate of Valley Forge High School in Parma Heights, OH, Sam knew she wanted to attend Mount Union. “I found out about Mount Union because of my youth pastor,” she said. But before attending Mount Union, she took classes at Cuyahoga Community College where the classes were all in one building and it made for easy travel. “It was a huge transition when I transferred.”

Karen Saracusa, director of disability support services, professors and new friends all stepped up to help make her transition a smooth one. “I was really nervous at first,” she said. “But so many people went out of their way to help me, I became more confident.”

Technology also enhanced the educational experience for Sam. “My preferred format for textbooks and other printed materials is electronic textbooks, (E-texts),” she said. “I obtain these through the publisher or sometimes the book is available on Bookshare.org, a website that serves the print-impaired.” She downloads books and puts them on her Braille laptop, which is portable and easy to manage.

Her Braille Note M Power laptop is produced by Humanware, a company that specializes in manufacturing adaptive technology. This approximately $6,000 piece of equipment has a Braille style keyboard, Braille display that is basically the monitor and has the same capabilities as a regular desktop or laptop PC. She also uses a regular computer with the assistance of a screenreading software called JAWS for Windows, which stands for job access with speech. “JAWS allowed me to do most things like write papers, use email and Facebook, and even play games,” said Sam. The Disability Support Services here at Mount Union was so helpful in getting other things in non-accessible formats into formats I could read. “I still had my challenges, but I feel very blessed to have had all that I needed to succeed.”

Active on campus, Sam was in Campus Crusade for Christ, Praise God in the Quad, served as a worship leader, co-led a Bible study group, played piano and sang for a praise band. She was also a member of Kappa Phi, Women’s Chorus and the Mount Union Alliance Chorale and wrote for the Dynamo.

Sam credits Dr. Jamie Capuzza, professor of communication, with having a positive impact on her life. “She has a lot of enthusiasm and is very passionate about what she does,” said Sam. “I was really excited when she was named Great Teacher my senior year.”

Another memorable experience was her Intercultural Communication class with Dr. William Coleman, professor of communication and assistant to the president for diversity. Other professors that helped her out included Dr. Debra Boyd-Kimball, associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Clark Archer, professor of computer science and information systems. “They were both so accommodating and very helpful,” said Sam. “They used creative methods to help me grasp anything that was very visual by nature.”

When asked about what Mount Union has done for her, Sam said, “My confidence level is definitely higher. Thanks to my experience at Mount Union and the lifetime friendships I formed while I was a student, I feel like I am poised for success.

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