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Beth made a last-minute request to spend a day at Harvard in Cambridge before returning home. We drove through New Haven, Connecticut, on the way to Massachusetts. I pointed out a sign for another college.
“Would you like to visit Yale?” I asked. Her answer? A definite, “No.” She had no interest in any Ivy League college, with one exception. Beth explained in a scholarship application:
“Harvard first got my attention because of the national billboard campaign, which suggests an appreciation of the contributions that students with disabilities can make.”
Harvard turned out to be more than we expected. A student guide led us through one of the ornate gates into Harvard Yard. The stately buildings, iconic statues, and courtyards with high canopies of ancient trees made a charming first impression. All around us, students and tourists spoke many different languages as the guide shared fascinating history.
“I toured the Harvard campus,” Beth said, “and just fell in love with it.”
We explored Harvard Square on our own after the tour and ate pizza at Bertucci’s for the first time. The brick sidewalks on some of the streets slowed Beth down, but she never complained. The essence of the Square assaulted the senses, a loud urban setting with too many people, bikes, cars, and taxis. Street performers held the attention of people from all over the world. The intense, diverse humanity of Harvard Square held a charm all its own.
Back home in Ohio in early July, Beth worked part-time in the local Community Action Commission, photocopying, filing, and answering the phone. She invited Ellen, Jackie, and Lizzy to pose with her for senior pictures with a local photographer. She swam with GTAC about twice a week at an outdoor pool, even when it rained, and volunteered after practice on the neuroscience floor at St. Vincent. She restocked laundry, made beds, filled water pitchers, and brought snacks for patients.
Beth fully utilized an undeniable perk of using a wheelchair: carrying items hands-free on her lap. She balanced heavier items on her lap by holding them in place with her chin as she wheeled forward.
Next destination (and highlight!) of a non-stop summer: Columbus, Ohio!
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