Closed doors don't stop Russell

Jesse Russell and Ron Doyle image

Jesse Russell and Ron Doyle

Even if most people do not personally know him, they know of him. Jesse Russell is a student, a writer for the South Coloradan, an active participant in New Left, and also in a wheelchair.

Jesse Russell, '08, is an English major and theatre minor. One day he hopes to become a published writer and poet. Russell said he writes because he feels drawn to it.

"It allows me to be expressive and it's so important for a society to have writing," he said "It connects people."

Although Russell said he enjoys the friendly atmosphere of Adams State, he does face challenges with its physical environment. Russell has been in a wheelchair for 11 years because he has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease that results in the slow degeneration of muscles.

"The only challenges have been getting in some of the buildings on campus, but the people on their way to class always open the door," Russell said.

Russell is currently working with others to make the campus more accessible for students with disabilities.

"By making the campus more accessible, it will give me more independence. I believe by removing those barriers people the view me as being able," Russell said.

Randall Emmons, professor of physics, is one of the individuals working on accessibility advancements on campus. Last summer, Emmons was hit by a car in Oregon while he was biking.

He said although Adams State is ADA compliment, it is not always a comfortable environment for the handicap.

"The decisions on how to advance our campus in the area of handicap accessibility have been, for the most part, made by people who aren't handicap," Emmons said "The driver in Oregon changed my prospective of the campus. Features of the campus that once seemed so friendly are not anymore."

One of Russell's professors, John Taylor, associate professor of theatre, characterized Russell as insightful.

"Jesse is a very creative and talented young man," Taylor said. "I love his sense of humor and the incredible insights that he makes about the world around him."

Jesse's friend, Ron Doyle, '07, feels the same way as Taylor and describes Jesse as a superior friend. Doyle said the relationship between the two of them spans eight years.

"One of the things I highly respect about Jesse is that he can see himself as someone with an enlightened future, and I think that his positive aspects in (and for) life, alongside the fact that he's easy and fun to talk with make him a superior friend," he said "You can always count on him to be there or assist with the little things that you need from time to time."

Doyle also supports efforts to accommodate Jesse on campus.

"He's too good of a person with too large of a heart to not be able to have adequate facilities available to him," he said.