Life as an Oswego Student

What a beautiful day out there today, nice and windy, even some snow was flurrying down from the sky. I cannot wait until the nice weather comes and stays. It was such a tease when it was in the 60’s this past weekend and now it is raining/snowing, but it is not going to stay for long!Having a dorm next to the lake in the warmer weather is such a great experience. Either you can look out the window in the morning and see the beautiful lake with the sun shining on it, or at lunch time you can get a bagged lunch to go and go sit on the grass next to it with a bunch of friends. You can even do your schoolwork while sitting next to the lake, you cannot get much nicer than that.

Enough about the weather, I just got a little excited because winter is pretty much over. There is a little over a month until the semester is over! For some this is a happy time, but for most, it is a time of stress and endless amounts of work. As I stated in a previous blog, the best thing is to take things one at a time. It really works.

I have a 15-20 page paper due Friday, a test Wednesday, a test Friday, a paper to revise and hand-in by Wednesday, lots and lots of online work and so much more. That is only one week, but it really isn’t that bad even though it sounds it. I started today and got a lot of work done by just making myself sit at my computer, signing offline so I couldn’t check my buddy list and facebook every two seconds, and did work. Granted I still have a lot more work to do, a nice chunk is out of the way and it is such a great feeling.

Speaking of work, I should probably get back to that and get some more done while I am still in the mood to do homework. Good luck to everyone with papers, tests, finals etc.

Day Dreaming

I know that I am suppose to pay attention in class, focus on what the teacher is saying, and take notes etc. but today was just one of those days where my mind could not stay on task as hard as I tried. I was thinking about anything and everything possible. I was thinking about Spring break which we have in a few weeks. I am heading to Florida for the week with some family and friends. I was also thinking about how I am excited for nice weather, laying on the beach, jet skiing and so much more.

One of the things that I began thinking about was my life. My sister and my parents always tell me that I should write a book about my life. For those of you who don’t know, I am blind and have had a degenerative eye condition since I was born. I do not let it get in my way, I actually have fun with it sometimes and that is what I think I would talk about if I wrote this book. So many funny things have happened to me and so many great things along the way.

I always have this problem with writing a paper or even a blog. I never know how to start what I am writing. Usually once I get a good start I can write or type for hours, but I am trying to think of how to start a book and that seems impossible right now. I am trying to figure out what will catch the readers eye or lure them into my life story. If anyone has any interesting ideas, please share them with me.

This is what I was thinking about all during class and before I knew it, I had taken no notes, and the class was almost over. I better go and read the chapter and jot down some notes.

The exciting life of the blind chick

You are all probably wondering why I haven’t written in a while, or maybe you aren’t, but the Winter break has been crazy and so has the beginning of this semester.

Over Winter break, I joined an adaptive ski program. Of course, I being the daredevil wanted to snowboard instead. Many say that it is difficult to snowboard with sight, well it was time for me to try it with very little sight. It has been such a great experience. I have done it every Sunday until one week where I decided to attempt some tricks. I did a few 360’s which is when you are facing the board down the hill, lift up and completely spin around and land facing the same direction that you started in. After a few of these fun tricks, I landed on my arm and hurt it pretty bad, resulting in my arm being in a sling for the past three or so weeks.

Snowboarding with very very little sight is extremely interesting. It’s quite funny; I wear an orange vest that says “blind snowboarder” on the back of it, just to let other people on the mountain know that I cannot see. The person working with me or being my guide has an orange vest that says “blind guide.” One week, one of the guides decided to try this radio/microphone system out. In each of our helmets, we had an ear piece and a microphone that was always on. This ensured that he could always tell me where to go or which way to turn etc. It also made it so that he did not have to be right near me, we could have some space in between us on the mountain. People would get very freaked out when they saw a man with an orange vest that said “blind guide” and had no idea where the person was that he was guiding went. We got a lot of laughs out of that.

My computer also decided to crash, which is always nice. It was very difficult for me because I cannot just go onto any computer and start using it. The speaking software that I use on my computer isn’t on other computers, which made it difficult to use any type of internet or word processing over the January break.

Enough of all that. This semester is going great! I have quite the load of work and classes, but I am very motivated and feel that this semester will go very smoothly. I am doing my practicum at the Onondaga County Probation Department which is located in downtown Syracuse. I worked at this agency over the summer as an intern and enjoyed it so much that I picked this organization to complete my practicum as well. The practicum consists of 120 hours of fieldwork and it also has a class attached with it. Even though it is a lot of work, it is a lot of fun, very informative and I have met so many great people along the way.

In the spare time of my busy life, I hang out with friends or my suitemates. I am still also involved in martial arts and snowboarding. I will be writing blogs much more often now, sorry for the lengthy break of time between my blogs.

Confidence and Independence

It will be a year ago this Wednesday, December 3rd, that I graduated from the Colorado Center for the Blind. This school is located in Littleton Colorado, which is about 20 miles south of Denver. At this school, I attended a 6 month Independence Training Program (ITP). People from all over the world attend this school to gain more blindness skills and become as independent as they possibly can.
All of the students lived in a very nice apartment complex. We were mingled in with other people who lived there and were not attending this school. To get to school, we had to walk a few minutes to the bus stop, take a bus to the light rail station, which is the above ground subway. Then we had to get off at the next stop and walk about a quarter of a mile to the school.
I like to refer to this training as “blindness boot camp.” Everyone was blindfolded from 8:00 until 4:30, Monday through Friday. During the day, we participated in home management class, organizational skills class, technology class, Braille class, travel class, and woodshop class. We would also go to Colorado Rockies baseball games, rock climbing, white water rafting, canoeing, and many other fun activities to challenge us as blind individuals. The people who went to this school ranged in age from 18 to 65 when I was there. It was amazing getting to know other people with similar eye conditions as myself. Some people who I was in the program with were blind from birth, others had some sight, and others were in bad accidents or had diabetes. No matter what the vision problem, we all became close friends and enjoyed our time at the school.
At the end of my 6-month training, I had to complete a final in each class. These finals were not like the tests we have to take here at Oswego or any other college, it was hands on and very involved. I will share some stories of my experiences and some of the things that we did in the program.
For my organizational skills class we learned how to label clothing to decipher what color it was or what shirt it was, we also learned other labeling techniques for food etc. For the final exam in this class, I brailed out a phone book, taking the 356 numbers in my cell phone and putting the name and number of each person on index cards and later into a book. This is still helpful to me to this day.
In woodshop class, we used every tool or machine you could imagine. I was a bit scared when I first met my teacher and he had nine fingers, but it was because of an accident at a previous job. I used table saws, sand belts, drill presses, hammers, you name it. It may have taken a little longer and I may have had to do things a little differently, but my friend and I ended up making four humidors that were lined with cedar wood inside. I do not smoke, so it really did not benefit me, but it was such a good feeling to complete a project like that with no sight.
In Braille class, we learned Braille from beginning to end. I have been taught Braille since I was younger but up until two years ago or so, I could still read large print and never used the Braille that I had learned. For the final exam, I went to a local mall that a lot of the students and I would go to on our time off and made a tactual map. I also made a list of the stores in order and placed them on this map in Braille so that other students can use it when traveling around the mall looking for a specific store. I would also take out books in the school Braille library and read on my free time. I still do this as well, but I have to order them from an agency instead. This helps me improve my reading skills in Braille and gives me something to do when I am bored and have no homework.
In technology class, I learned how to use JAWS, which stand for Job Access with Speech. This program is on my computer that speaks everything aloud to me. It reads the internet, word documents and pretty much everything you could imagine. I also learned numerous other things and played around with GPS equipment that also spoke aloud. For the final exam, I took an Olive Garden Menu and converted it into Braille using the computer and printing it through a program that puts it into Braille. I then bound the menu and took it home to my home restaurant to use when I went there to eat.
For my home management class, we made a lot of food. We would also cook the meal for lunch that day, feeding over 40 people. We also made lists and had to go shopping for the food. For the final in this class, we had to prepare a meal for our graduation all by ourselves. Eighty people were coming to my graduation, including students and staff, and I decided to make baked ziti, homemade garlic bread sticks and cherry filled cookies for dessert. I had to shop alone for all the ingredients, prepare, cook and serve it as well. It was amazing, but a lot of work that is for sure.
Traveling class was the most difficult class I participated in. We were taught how to use a white cane to get around and be independent. We learned how to cross streets, large intersections, how to follow traffic patterns, use the sun to orient us, travel on busses and the light rail, and a variety of other things. We would usually go into downtown Denver to do this training and after awhile the teacher would send us on what they called “independent routes.” This is when the teacher had given us a business that we had to find. They would tell us the address and the street name and we had to go there, get a business card and head back. We learned how to pull apart the address and by doing so, we could tell what side of the street it was on, what direction the street went, and how close or far away from the corner the address was located. Pretty crazy, huh?
For this class, there were two final exams, lucky me! For one of them, they called it a “drop off.” Just by the sounds of this, it does not sound too appealing. A staff member and I were in the car, meanwhile still blind folded, and drove for about an hour or so. She would make many unnecessary turns to confuse me and make sure that I was not trying to use the sun to try to track which direction we were heading. I was so lost from the start so it did not really matter anyways. When she was dropping me off, she asked, “How do you feel about cows?” That was not a nice feeling to know I was being dropped off near cows. She dropped me off and there I went. I had to find my way back to Littleton using public transportation.
We were allowed one question, granted they would never know if we asked more than one, because no one was following you. I stuck to the rule just to prove to myself that I could do it. When I got out of the car, I heard voices behind me and headed towards them. I started talking when I was closer and of course, they did not speak English. This was fine, if I knew how to speak Spanish. A woman then ran out of her house, I think, and asked if I needed help. I told her I was trying to get back to Littleton. She asked “do you know where you are?” and I of course said that I had no idea. She told me I was in Aurora. I then proceeded to waste my only question and said, “Are you serious?” Great, I am far away, and out of questions, I thought to myself. She told me to head east, cross a field near a school and then I will hit a street…no thank you I said. I will not be traveling over a field, my luck I would be in that field all day.
I just decided to walk, and walk, and walk. Thirty-two blocks later, I reached a bus stop. The bus driver told me that this was the closest bus stop to where I was because the other bus stops did not have busses that ran in the afternoon. I sat on the bus for an hour, then had to switch to another bus. Then when I was on my way back to the school and I knew where I was, I was the happiest person ever!
For my last final exam for travel class, we had to complete a “Monster Route.” This is when you plan a day of travel going to four different cities and four different places you have never been before. We had to type it all up ahead f time listing the times the bus or train will come, which corner we had to find the bus stop, which directions we were walking etc. It was extremely detailed. My first stop was the Denver Police Department. Downtown Denver is very confusing, the streets are angled which makes it very confusing for a blind person to navigate. That might be why I walked into the city jail instead of the police department. Oops. When I finally found the police department, I had a tour from an investigative officer who took me to all the different offices and I actually got pictures taken with the Chief of Police. It was a great experience. After this I went to two other cities and went to random stores. My last stop was a restaurant in a place called Highlands Ranch, where everyone met me after school for dinner and drinks to celebrate the completion of my Monster Route. Although it was a lot of work and preparation, I had a great time!
While at this school, I was the President of the Student Body. Many people had told me in conversation that they never went to their prom whether it be because they were scared to because of their vision, or they weren’t asked to go by anyone. I decided to put on a prom. I put together a decoration committee and we went to town. We hired a caterer, a DJ and we bought all our own decorations. It was the most amazing thing ever. I have never seen so many people have so much fun.
We would also go rock climbing and white water rafting as I said above. I climbed seventeen rocks in one day, two of which no one at our school could climb. I am a fighter; I tried so hard and ended up completing my goal. Attending this program has helped me in so many ways. Not only did I meet many great people from all over the world, but I gained an enormous amount of confidence and independence.
If it were not for this training, I would be still holding onto people’s arms to get around, and have no confidence at all. I still get scared traveling in unfamiliar areas or things like that, but overall I am such a stronger woman after participating and completing this extensive blindness training.
I could go on and on for hours, which it seems like I already did, but I just wanted to explain how I became the person I am today and how I get around Oswego campus with little to no problems. Snow is a different story, that is when it starts getting harder to travel, but there is nothing I can do about that, it’s mother nature and it has a mind of its own.
I work at the Disability Office on campus and some of the others I work with tell me that I need a seeing eye bear to get around campus in the winter. Sounds like a good idea to me.
I am done, I promise, I hope everyone had a great holiday and I will write more later.

Snow! Snow! Snow!

I just wish it was nice and warm and fluffy, instead of wet and freezing. It must be quite entertaining for someone to watch me, the blind chick try to walk from class to work, or another class etc. It is amusing for myself. I can only see very limited and everything just looks like a big foggy white blanket. It’s always fun when I hear a plow, but not quite sure where to walk to avoid it. I have already played “chicken” with the snow movers on the sidewalks, needless to say, I’ve won that battle. I use a white cane, which blends right in with the snow. The people who work for the college and remove snow and keep our sidewalks clear, do a great job, but we cannot do anything about the gusts of wind that come off of the lake. This makes it very difficult for me to feel the sidewalk and decipher which way to go, usually it is a snow bank or the wrong path, but no matter what, I get where I’m going, while laughing the whole time, of course.

I wish I was young again, playin in the snow with friends, making igloo’s, having snowball fights and going sledding. I remember when my friends and I would come inside my house from playing all day, and there would be nice big mugs of hot coco waiting for us with a mound of marshmellows on top. It’s pretty much the same here at Oswego, accept I don’t really play in the snow, well on purpose. When friends and I park in the parking lot and trot through the snow to our dorm building, we can then go to the dining hall and make ourselves a delicious cup of hot coco. It’s kind of similar.

I cannot wait to go snow boarding. I am part of the ski club on campus. The club travels and has two major ski/snowboarding trips throughout the year. I am not attending either one this year, but I will definitely be doing so next winter. I want to hit the slopes and make sure I still remember how to snowboard. I haven’t gone on the mountains since two years ago and I have lost some vision since then, so we’ll see how this adventure plays out. There are many blind or visually impaired people who ski or snowboard. They use a guide, but I am not totally positive how it works. But I will find out, and write about it when I do.

Off to class, the snow is falling, the plows are out and here I come.

Getting from point A to point B…well sort of

Oh how I love the winter time! Last week, I was heading to the library with a friend and we had to body slam the door leading out of our dorm building. It was so windy, and when you add a little bit of rain or snow in the mix, it’s a blast.

I really do love the winter time. I love snowboarding, snow shoeing and throwing snowballs of course, but I could easily do without the cold temperatures and the wind. Everyday I ask myself, why would the blind chick choose a college on a lake, where it will snow ten feet and the wind will blow you around? Well, because I love Oswego, that’s about the best answer I have for you.

Sometimes, walking to class, my white cane will just fling up in my hand and it looks like I’m carrying a flag with just the pole part. I think I need ten pound weights at the end of it so that it will stay on the sidewalk when it is very windy outside. That way, when I am at a store, they won’t ask if I’m buying that mop, shower curtain rod, or fishing pole. Putting weights at the end of my cane will help me in so many ways. Could you see me trying to walk with a light-weight cane, with huge weights at the bottom of it?

Oswego is such a beautiful campus and city itself. It is so nice being in my dorm room when the waves are crashing and the sun is shining. Or walking to class along the lake and the leaves are changing colors, but wow do we get a crazy winter!

I’m so happy that the bus picks up and drops off right in front of the doors at my dorm building. This will be my means of transportation 100% during the winter, because there is no way my broken mop, shower curtain rod and I are traveling across campus in the snow. The bus is nice and warm, the drivers are very nice, and there are no snow banks to get lost in.

No matter what the weather is or how cold it is outside, there are so many things to do both indoors and outdoors, whether it be snow sports, or staying in, keeping warm and watching a movie with some friends in the lounge. Sometimes I wish I was down South going to college, using my cane in the sand on the way to class, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

“One step at a time”

It sometimes feels like our homework, studying, projects, presentations, group work etc. will continue forever. For example, this week alone, I have three midterms, two papers due, and an 8 page paper to start and write. I wish we could stretch the hours of the day to about 100 so that I could have enough time to complete everything.

When I took out the sylabus’s for my classes and read everything that I had to do, I was extremely overwelmed and stressed out instantly. One of my teachers from last semester, who I was talking to the other day, had told me that I need to slow down and take things one step at a time. I thought about this for a moment and it actually makes sense. If you read over everything you need to complete, you will be frustrated and very overwhelmed, but if you take one thing at a time, read it over and start working on it, it actually isn’t too bad at all.

This past weekend, I went home for a few days. My dad had told me that he would help me with some work and the visual aspects of it as well. We sat down Saturday morning and tackled each step of an assignment, one at a time. Next, I completed my study guide for my midterm that I had this past Monday. And lastly, on Sunday, I started a huge portfolio project that I have to hand in at the end of this week. If you take one step at a time and even do one part each day, it is so much less stressful then looking at it all and then doing it all at once.

I feel that this would be beneficial with anything that we do whether it be schoolwork, on the job work, or in our daily lives with things that we need to accomplish. I know it was a simple statement, but it really made an impact in my life and it was the perfect time for me to learn this trait.

Today, I took out a study guide for an exam that I have tomorrow. This is not just any study guide, it is enormous! At first I was afraid and kept thinking to myself that I will never get it done, but then I calmed down and told myself, “one step at a time.” I split it into groups and completed small sections at a time. In no time, the study guide was complete with answers and I could use it to study at any time.

In college, we learn many things such as psychology, business, accounting, and sociology, but we also learn many valuable life skills along the way. This is one of those skills that I will always keep with me and use throughout my daily life.

So, the next time you are worried about a test or you have a major assignment to do, take a step back, calm down and break it up into pieces. You will feel so much better doing it this way, I sure did!


Hi everyone. So I figured I would share some funny stories that have happened to me lately, in this blog. I didn’t have anything too particular to talk about, so I decided to humor you instead.

I was walking from the Library the other day, to the Disability Services Office in the Campus Center. They aren’t too far away at all, but anything can happen in a short amount of time. A man walked up to me and asked “Have you found anything yet?” I then said “um no, what do you mean?” He said “that is a metal detector right?” And of course, me being the smart blind chick said “oh yes, beep beep beep beep. He thought that my white cane was a metal detector. Wow wouldn’t that be a nice combination, a sight cane and a metal detector all in one. There’s the next invention right there.

I can have a lot of fun with being blind, especially in class. I am taking a particular class and my teacher used to put the text in front of me and tell me to try to see the pictures. I would remind this professor that I cannot see the book at all. When it was time for quizzes, she would try having me read, yet again, so I took out my Braille maker and answered all of the questions that she asked orally and then got up at the end of class and handed her a full sheet of paper of dots. She was confused and asked me how she was supposed to read that. I proceeded to tell her that if I have to try and read her book, she can try reading the bumps on the page. It was entertaining at least.

On another note, I was in the Oswego paper this past Wednesday and also the Baldwinsville Messenger. I will post the link below, if anyone is interested in reading the article. It speaks about my summer job at the Onondaga County Probation Department and also about my training in self defense that I am currently participating in. I take a class twice a week in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Brazilian Jujitsu. Not only is it a great workout, but it helps immensely with confidence building as well.

Tune in next week for some more exciting stories from your favorite blind chick.

Get Involved

Get involved. No matter how busy you are, how many classes you have or how much homework you have to do, find time to meet people and get involved in a sport, a club or something. My first semester at SUNY Oswego, I was afraid to get out and meet people. I think it had to do with my vision and worrying if I’d find my way home or silly things like that, but this semester is totally different.

Over the Summer, I made it a goal of mine to try and keep as busy as possible, and meet as many people as I could for this Fall semester. I am very outgoing and enjoy trying new things, but I just wasn’t sure how to go about it. I pulled the SUNY Oswego website up, searched for clubs and organizations and made a list of everything that interested me. These included tae kwon do, ski club, and the crew team. I was interested in many others, but didn’t want to overbook myself. I then clicked on the club and it connected me to their homepage. From here, I emailed the president or contact email and went from there.

I was very interested in the crew team, but I had other obligations that interfered with many of the practices. I go home, to Baldwinsville, twice a week. I take Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and Brazilian Jujitsu classes. I enjoy this so much but I was unable to do this and crew.

I went to a tae kwon do class last week and really enjoyed it. I laughed because it is a lot of striking and blocking. I enjoy the striking part of it, but I kind of have a little problem with the blocking. I plan on attending more of these classes.

This past weekend, I received an email back from the Ski Club. They were very interested in having me in their club. We have been emailing back and forth trying to see what mountains have adaptive teaching aids, or someone who is familiar with teaching a blind snowboarder. We are making great progress and I cannot wait to get on the slopes and board all day with my friends.

I have also joined the fitness center that is attached to my dorm building. Talk about convenient. I can go work out and then walk across the hall and have dinner or a snack after my work out. I haven’t tried a workout class such as the spinning class or other classes yet, but some of my friends and I are planning on doing that soon.

I also enjoy volunteering whether it is on campus or in the Oswego community. It’s fun meeting residents in the community and helping out for a good cause. Last weekend, a friend and I volunteered to help out with a 20 mile bike race, and a 5k and 10k running race. We were asked to direct traffic for the bike race, and then block off a street and cheer for the runners. This was so much fun, and yes a blind girl was helping direct traffic.

I can’t stress enough how much fun I’ve had just meeting people, making friends, doing something I love and trying new things. This is what college is all about. Yes there are classes, studying, homework, projects and other assignments or tasks that we have to complete to get our degrees, but there is so much more to college that you should take advantage of if you haven’t already.

Just never be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, go somewhere without your roommate or friends and do something that you love doing. I think that was another one of my problems, not wanting to go places without friends. I am comfortable with my friends and enjoy being with them, but sometimes I needed to do what was best for me. Not all of your closefriends will have the same interests as you do, so don’t be scared, and get out there.


Hi, my name is Erin. I’m a senior at SUNY Oswego and studying Public Justice. My career goal is to become a probation officer. My goal is a little different from most people’s because I plan on being the first blind probation officer. For this past Summer, I worked with the Onondaga County Probation Department, the Syracuse Police Department, and the Onondaga County Justice Center. It was such a rewarding experience to work hand-on in my field of interest.

So yes, as you now know, I’m blind! I’ll just give a short explanation of my vision, or lack there-of. I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) when I was 4. It is a degenerative eye condition that ultimately can lead to complete blindness. I was able to see much better growing up and could read small print and play numerous sports. A few years ago, my eye sight started to deteriorate and now I can no longer read print and I have very little useful vision.

I do not let the fact that I have a disability rule my life, in fact I think of it as a blessing. I am still able to play sports. I participate in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and Brazillian Juditzu. I also love to ice skate, play basketball and kick the soccer ball around. I might do things a little differently and it may take a little bit longer, but nothing holds me back.

I graduated in 2004 from Baker High School in Baldwinsville. After graduating, I received my Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Herkimer County Community College (HCCC). I then decided to transfer to SUNY Oswego to get my Bachelors’ Degree in Public Justice. I knew that with my vision deteriorating, and heading to a huge University, I needed more independence training. At this point I decided to go to the Colorado Center for the Blind in Littleton Colorado for a six month independence training course.

At this school, anyone who had any bit of vision, whether it is light perception or shadows etc. had to wear a blindfold from 8:00am until 4:30pm. I was in that category, and it was extremely difficult. Even though I had limited vision, I used what I did have to help me with traveling, cooking and other daily activities. At this school, we attended classes Monday through Friday in technology, Braille, wood shop, travel, home management, and organizational skills. Students at this school ranged from 18 years old and up. I was our student body president, and also planned many events such as attending Colorado Rockies baseball games, going rock climbing, white water rafting and canoeing. In addition to those events I also planned a first annual Colorado Center for the Blind prom. Many of the students had never gone to their prom. Many were either not invited to their school dances, or felt that they’re vision limited them from going, so they did not attend. We had it catered, received donations for decorations, and hired a DJ who was blind himself.

This 6 month experience prepared me very well for my first semester in Oswego this past January. I will talk about the center more in other blogs. It was very interesting and I have some great stories. The bottom line is that the training really prepared me for Oswego’s Campus and being independent in the dining halls, going to class, the bus system, and getting my work and studies complete.

At first, I thought that SUNY Oswego was way too big for anyone to navigate, let alone a blind person. After walking around, getting involved with clubs and meeting people, it is very easy and comfortable to go from point A to point B both on and off campus. I consider Oswego to be my second home and I’ve made life long friendships with both staff and students.