The adjustment to college life presents challenges for every student. Whether it’s managing their schedules, paying bills or buying their own groceries, every student has to adjust to living on their own.
They may arrive on campus with different backgrounds, needs and expectations, but they’re all trying to develop themselves and earn a degree. Then there are students like Julia Murray, a Slippery Rock University exercise science major from Pittsburgh, who have challenges that go beyond the typical college student. She’s deaf and blind. That hasn’t stopped her from embracing all that’s different about what she’s experiencing and the opportunities to succeed.
“I love it here,” said Murray, now in her second semester at SRU. “I really enjoy all the different experiences I’ve gotten here, the different people that I’ve met, as well as the many different opportunities on campus with clubs and organizations. I’ve been able to discover new activities that I’ve never done previously.”
“Different” is a label that’s been applied to Murray her entire life. As an infant, she was diagnosed with cone-rod dystrophy and bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. She has limited peripheral and central vision — her eye acuity is 20/400 in both eyes. Thanks to cochlear implant surgery when she was 2 years old, she is able to hear now.
Murray has benefited from therapies and other forms of support since she was 6 months old. When she was a toddler, Murray attended DePaul School for Hearing and Speech. She later transitioned to public school for first grade at an elementary school in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District where her mother teaches. Even at 5 years old she was aspiring for more, telling her parents that she wanted to attend college.