Spring graduation has concluded at Cal State Long Beach.
Reaching the end of any scholastic journey is no easy feat, and that was especially true for Keith Garvey, a new CSULB graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
"The challenges I faced that people may not understand are the negatives that they depict from my appearances due to my disability," Garvey said about himself. "There are challenges with getting around whether that be work or school."
Garvey was born with Cerebral Palsy, a neurological disorder that impacts a body's motor function. He is unable to stand or move without the assistance of a mobilized wheelchair and he can't write or speak without the help of an assistant or a computer.
"I am not as quick when it comes to working or processing things out," he added. "Also I am unable to write, so I need everything to be typed out or written for me."
But the recent graduate has not allowed his disability to define him. He said that he realized where his weak points were, found help and worked to move forward.
Although everyday items have been a little more difficult for him to accomplish than for his peers, he said that he found ways to maneuver through his schooling and learn how to adapt, which eventually led him toward success.
To get through his schooling, Garvey said that he had the support of the Disabled Student Services program at the university. With the program, he said that he had access to specialized programming and tutoring, and much more.
"They’re very accommodating towards students with special needs and have helped to better me along my journey," he said about the program.
He said that he also had support outside of that program.
Djemel Sadi, mechanical engineering's network and systems analyst at CSULB, helped Garvey through his to day-to-day activities. He even credited Sadi as a "second father."
"He brought pizza and other food and always made sure I had enough to eat," Garvey said of Sadi. "What I can truly say was that he provided for me and took care of me like a father would. Every time I came into the lab, it would feel like home and I couldn’t say any better than this but it was home to me."
With supportive peers and the additional services provided at the Disabled Student Services, Garvey said that he felt supported, and that kind of support can help turn ideas and passions into a reachable goal.
For Garvey, that passion lies in automotive design, something he said that he will continue to work on and master.
"As of now I will be over at the Long Beach Public Library drawing cars and vans," he said. "Other days — if you’re lucky — stop by I might just be here in my same old place on the second floor in ECS-205 working on my CAD designs."
Due to his disability, Garvey said that it took him 11 years to graduate with his bachelor's degree, but the journey has only made him more proud of his accomplishments and more determined to pursue a master's degree in industrial design, he said.
"Don’t give up, even when things seem hard," he said. "Never pay attention to anyone who tries to be negative with you, just keep on doing what you love and the fruits of your labor will speak for itself."
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.