College for me was different than I expected, but I still have fond memories of it and its uniqueness. For my first 2 years, I commuted toRaritan Valley Community College as part of the inaugural Honors College with my cousin Katie.It was five minutes down the road I could literally get out of my bed, eat breakfast, and leave my house right before class. Thankfully, my nurse was allowed to drive me around in my accessible van back then. I vividly remember my first day driving to school where almost every road was flooded from the remnants of a hurricane. After rushing into class when we arrived, I was so surprised when the professor asked me why I was late! Darn – I should have brought my boat!
I have many fond memories of my favorite classes! Interpersonal Communications wheremy down-to-earth professor named Bick taught me how to share my story and my truth. Spanish class with Rebecca, where I met one of my good friends Allison and tried some unique cuisine. Philosophy with Brandyn where I learned about living a moral, ethical life and met my friend Lindsey. Funny story – when we visited Princeton Art Museum on a field trip, and I annoyingly ate my entire breakfast platter at IHOP just before we arrived. If you use a power wheelchair and require a lift to transfer, you know how big of a mistake eating lots of food – far away from an accessible bathroom – truly is. Somehow, I survived!
Outside of class I was involved in a lot of fun and rewarding activities. I was a member of the student organization BACCHUS, which stands for Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students and focused on making healthy and safe lifestyle decisions and educating about alcohol & substance abuse. I remember when two of the members shared their difficult journey to overcome drug addiction and depression. It was the first time I saw someone truly wear their heart on their sleeve when sharing their story. It inspired me to share my own story multiple times over those two years at Raritan Valley. Another fond memory was hosting my own podcast for the Radio DJ Club and realizing immediately that podcasts require hours of prep. Kudos to Sean and Kyle from Two Disabled Dudes for all the hard work you do, as even that one podcast in college was too overwhelming for me! I also attended the Video Game Design Club a few times and participated in a Global Game Jam. I’m so glad one of my favorite professors (with blue hair named William) invited me to join and made sure that I had everything I needed to have an amazing time, even with my physical limitations. I believe those experiences cemented my love for video games, taught me how difficult the process for developers could be, and provided me with the tools to develop my Overjoyed accessible controller! My final great experience at college was helping to plan the Relay for Life fundraiser. I volunteered to plan the musical entertainment and had an amazing time finding talented groups to perform. That was how I met and became close friends with the talented performer and kindred spirit named Brittany.
I think my most influential experiences in my first two years of college were the small, but impactful moments: eating lunch with my friend Jean and talking about life and her love for all music by the band Hanson, or my nurse empowering my shy self to be as independent as possible and always speak for myself. After writing all of this down, I now realize my first two years of college had a deeper impact on who I am today than I ever imagined. See, stories don’t only teach others – they also remind me of how the past shaped me. In a future post I will be sharing memories from the next 2 years at Rutgers University!
Anthony DeVergillo is a motivated communication professional with a focus in the rare disease space. He lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease that weakens his muscles over time, but he never lets it stop him from advocating for many who live with a rare disease to be fully included in society.
Anthony’s goal for #RareDayInMyLife is to not only share his challenges and experiences with Duchenne, but to allow for others to share their story for the world to read. He hopes that sharing #RareDayInMyLife will better educate the communities around us in order to be more inclusive of people who live with a disability or rare disease.