Class of 2013! I did it!

Hi Blog world,

Well on December 14th at 10:30 a.m. I did something years ago I didn’t think I could do.  I graduated from College! I’m so proud of myself.

I would like to take this time to thank all my friends, family and, my readers for getting me this far. Without you this day wouldn’t have been possible.

To watch the graduation, please click the link below.

Please note: the graduation was recorded by WUWF Public Media

Jessica and Diesel: the freedom continues

Jessica Woods is an amazing person who continues to inspire any person she comes in contact with.

Woods was born legally blind due to an eye condition called Coloboma. This eye condition is caused Woods’ retina to be deformed and her octave nerve to be damaged.

At the age of eight, the retina in Woods’ right eye detached and surgery was performed to reattach it. This surgery did not work. There was another surgery that was performed to try to fix the surgery from last time.

This time the surgery worked and Woods regained some sight. From this point on, Woods slowly began to lose the regained sight that she had.

By the age of 17 the eye condition took her sight completely.

Raising someone who is legally blind and then going blind at the age of 17 was.

“An Adventure,” said Pam Woods, who is Jessica Woods’ mother, “There were challenges in the school systems, trying to get her an education. Watching her struggle, I guess you can say we celebrated when she succeeded, we cried along with her when she didn’t but it was an adventure.”

From the time she was little, she was in Orientation and Mobility Training.   She was given her first cane when she was seven years old, and she would continue to use this cane for the next 12 years.

Many people with perfect sight really take for granted what it means to walk independently; but when you are blind, being able to walk independently really is a miracle.  At the age of 19, Woods knew it was time for her to have that independence and freedom just like any other person, so she applied for her first guide dog.

Her first guide dog was a yellow Golden Retriever /Labrador mix named Bristol. Woods had to go through a month long training process before she could bring Bristol home.

During this training process, she was taught how to work with Bristol while he was in and out of harness.  The training was well worth it all. They worked together as a team for five years.

But sadly, last year, Bristol started showing signs that he didn’t want to work anymore.  Woods thought it was time to retire Bristol, and was ready to do so, until, one night he developed a severe nose bleed. Woods took him to the vet the next day and sadly, the news was not good, Bristol had cancer.  Last summer, Bristol peacefully died in Woods’ arms when he was put to sleep.

Woods knew it was time to get another guide dog. She and Bristol made such a great team that she decided to go back to Bristol’s school for her next dog.  But, after her application was completed, she was put onto a waiting list and told that there was not a good match for her. Since she was starting her next year of college in August, she approached the Pilot Dogs, Inc.  She told them about her situation and that she would need a new dog to help her live independently on campus.

A month later, she got the phone call she had anxiously been waiting for.  The school had a match for her.  For Woods, this was a new adventure because she had to leave her family behind and she had to fly to Columbus, Ohio, to receive and train with her new dog.

Her freedom and independence would continue with a two year old black Labrador, named Diesel.  Since Woods was in a different city, she received a different kind of training than she had received with her first guide dog.

“I got more city training in Columbus, Ohio, than at the previous school, which was more of a small town, which I found very beneficial,” said Jessica Woods.

She returned home and to her dorm mates at her school.  Once at her school, she had to teach guide dog etiquette to her dorm mates.

“No, I had no idea until they came here, “said Grace Eadie, who is a member of the residence hall were Woods and Diesel live, “I thought that you could just play with the dog and really you can’t do that.”

Many of Jessica’s dorm mates feel happy that Diesel is around to help her.

” I feel that Jessica is very lucky to have Diesel,” said Ashlee Ballew, “I am glad that Jessica has the extra help. She is a very sweet girl and Diesel seems to help her out a lot.”

Many of Jessica’s friends have seen her grow with Diesel, who is still a young puppy.

“It’s very interesting because I knew Jessica when she had Bristol and they were a pretty good team,” said Becca Hill who is a friend of Jessica and Diesel in an interview, “and then she got Diesel who is very hyper, and it’s kind of like the opposite of Bristol, but it’s pretty cool watching them learn and watching Diesel mature. “

Jessica and Diesel: The freedom continues

 

 

 

David Barstow’s 8 P.M. lecture

Hi Blog world,

Last night I went to the 8 P.M. lecture by David Barstow. He started out by telling us a story about how someone had an $80,000 contract on his life. He was worried about his safety. His paper that he was working for at the time sent out six ex-navy seals for protection. After a few days of being watched, he took his family to Disney for three days and the person who was threatening him, was prosecuted and sent to jail.

He talked about the freedom of information act and how as Journalist we are having a hard time getting the information that we need.  Many journalists now quit perusing the information rather than fight for the information that they need to write their stories.  Also there are so many people taking up Public Relations that Journalism is dying. But there is hope, because there are journalists in my generation fighting for the right to be good reporters.

During a short Question and Answer session after the lecture he gave students an opportunity to ask questions. One of those questions was:” How do students get a good career? ”  His answer was simple, “Find a good teacher, editor that will teach you about your mistakes and to let you know that it’s OK to make mistakes.” He also said to set goals for yourself.

Blog  soon,

Amanda Gene

David Barstow comes to Media Convergence class

Hi Blog world,

Today, I got an exciting opportunity.  A prize-winning journalist, David Barstow, came to our Media Convergence class.  I was a little nervous about what notes to take, however, once he started talking,  I took these notes and I felt like these topics were  important.

The journalism trade in general:

1. The journalism trade is changing, but we are in dire need more than ever.  He told us that we need to find out what kind of journalism skill we can do the best and stick to it. (Mine I believe is doing audio slide shows), he told us that it’s all about being a great story-teller and how to get the point across in the correct manner.  Also he told us to hold the values of journalism, to be fair, and tell the truth.

2. I also learned, and this has been a struggle for me, that everyone has to start at the bottom of the job field and they must work hard to get their way up to the head of the line.  It’s about proving what you can do and it’s about getting the trust of your boss: the editor.

3. It’s OK to learn from your mistakes, find an editor that will work with you and that they can help make you a better writer.

Being organized is important:

1. In the world of writing and journalism, a writer must be organized in every way possible. From gathering the facts, to being able to find a certain e-mail on a certain topic, being organized will help the story flow and help with your peace of mind.

2. “You must be committed to your work and get the editors on board with you.”   Being in the paper and not being in the paper can affect you personally, but when you give it your all and know at the end of the day that you did just that you will feel stronger than the day before.

3. Start your writing early, and keep an outline.

4.” Work your ways through your writing don’t get stuck, you can always come back to the problem spot latter.”

On finding the right job for you:

1.” Interview the editor of the paper that you want to work for while they are interviewing you.” (it’s OK to ask questions)

2. “be careful about your networking, it’s not about how many followers you have but who you know.”

3. ” it’s about getting the trust of your editor and producing great work, from there you will get noticed.”

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene

The local university

Hi Blog world,

Greetings from the local university! The last three days have been amazing. After getting moved in I went for many walks and I have many snacks. That night I went to the local shopping event, and I got some extra food and some more water. On Thursday, I helped my best friend move into her dorm and I got to play with her dog. On Friday, I got my textbooks and I started scanning them, into my computer so I could read them on my reading program. You would think that in this world of digital world of learners and readers the blind population would have more access to textbooks and other reading material, however, we don’t and having to scan your textbooks are very tiring, but like my best friend says, What choice do we have? I just hope that the digital world makes things easier for us soon.

Tonight I went to a cookout and a slide-It was fun. I have the coolest people in my dorm hall, they really are helpful and I appreciate their help.

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene

 

Freedom: white cane style

Hi Blog world,

Sorry I didn’t get a blog in last week it was a rough and exciting week. Last Thursday I got the call that I have been waiting a year and two half months for-I finally was going to get my white cane and training! I was excited and nervous at the same time.

Finally, Saturday came and my teacher came with my cane. I have to admit that I was nervous that my training would be delayed more. My first lesson was in the sighted guide technique, for people who do not know a sighted guide helps someone who is blind or visually impaired get around safely, during this lesson we went through how to use a sighted guide while going up and down stairs and how to switch sides of the guide while traveling. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoRQiG_hlHk we also went through how to keep myself safe if I didn’t have my cane with me.

The first lesson I learned with my cane was what length I needed; to measure a user for a cane we use the height up to the collar-bone mine’s a 50 in. After that, I learned the parts of the cane and how to walk with it.

Even though it had just stopped raining my teacher and I went for a mile and a half walk. It felt odd learning the technique; however, I learned it pretty quickly.  I am looking forward to learning more lessons on how to travel independently. I get my freedom back!

This blog is in loving memory of Bristol: the guide dog who gave my best friend the
gift of independence.

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene

 

 

The years have gone by so fast-a reflection of my years at the local state college

Hi Blog world,

Well, after a long weekend and an extra twenty-four hours of waiting I got the news I wanted I passed my math class and I am now a graduate of the local state college!  I did it!  Wow!   Where has the time gone?  I have grown so much in the last three years.  I remember my first day at the college like most freshmen I was excited to be doing something after months of summer vacation, however, I was scared about being in this new “World” and I really wanted to go home.  I have now gotten over that rush of wanting to go home right away.   I have also made many friends.  During this time, I have also met my best friend, we have grown very close in our friendship and I know that our friendship will grow ever closer as I move on with my education at the local university.

My hardest difficulty is with my math, I have had many setbacks with it, and however, I am better with it than I first started when I was a freshman. I can’t thank the teachers and the tutors in the math lab enough for working so hard with me even when I felt down about learning my hardest subject. Thank you!

My spelling and grammar has also been a struggle for me.  I had to take writing prep writing my freshmen year, and with lots of practice and the dedication of my teachers, I was able to pass my College Placement Exam and I was able to move on to college credit classes my second term.  One of the goals I had during my time at the state college was to get something published in the school newspaper, and I went over the top of that goal, I had more articles published than I ever thought I would.  I also got the chance of educating the public about what it is like to be legally blind and what it means to be safe when walking with a white cane.

During my freshmen and sophomore year, I also attended a local learning center for the blind and visually impaired where I learned how to use my computer including programs: ZoomText and Kurzweil 3000.  I also sharpen my typing skills and learned how to use my digital tape recorder.

In the kitchen, I regained confidence in my cooking and stove use. I have also learned how to manage a home, through learning organization skills, banking skills, and I even got to learn about my future job by talking to some professional reporters at the local newspaper.

I also got to meet some guide dogs and I have learned that a blind person can really be independent, and they also have a constant companion: a friend for life.

I have also started learning Braille, I still am not a fluent reader yet, but I know that in the next two years I will be getting better at it.

In my spare time I have also learned how to take care of an aquarium; and I have learned a lot about fish.

Through all these little things, I have been gaining more confidence and independence. I am not sure of what the next two years of my life will obtain or what goals I will achieve but I do know that it’s going to be an adventure!

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene