Kent State Student with Reduced Vision Defies the Odds
Cover your right eye and put a blinder on the outside of your left eye – that’s how Kent State University sophomore Katie Kimble, from Rocky River, Ohio, sees the world after nine eye surgeries.
“I’m not cool with it, but I accept it,” Kimble said. “I’m thankful for the vision I have.”
At a young age, doctors told Kimble that she would never drive or even ride a bike. But she is proving them all wrong. Kimble got her license at age 17 and rides a bike around town. She also kayaks and danced competitively for 15 years.
What is even more amazing is that Kimble tosses around a 6-foot-long flag as a member of the Kent State Marching Golden Flashes Colorguard, even though a collision could damage the only vision she has left.
“It’s a contact sport,” Kimble said. “If you toss it and catch it the wrong way, you can get severely injured. I’ve had lots of bruises. If I hit any part of my eye, I’ve been told my vision would be blurred.”
SEARCHING FOR A UNIVERSITY
Kimble was born three months early, which contributed to Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). The disease causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the layer of nerve tissue that enables sight. The growth can cause the retina to detach, leading to blindness.
Kimble has what is called “low vision.” As a result, she needs some provisions to help her in the classroom. Searching for a university that could meet those needs was stressful, until she found Kent State’s Student Accessibility Services.
“When I came to Kent State, the minute I walked into the Student Accessibility Services’ office, I felt at home,” Kimble said. “They made me and my parents feel comfortable that I was going to get what I needed.”
SUPPORT FROM STUDENT ACCESSIBILITY SERVICES
Kimble is one of about 1,200 students registered with Student Accessibility Services. The office provides a magnitude of accommodations, ranging from note-taking assistance to sign-language interpretation and the conversion of text to braille.
“Our office is here to serve students and serve them well,” said Amy Quillin, director of Kent State’s Student Accessibility Services. “We work with them to put into place services and accommodations that can enhance their academic success.”
In Kimble’s case, Kent State has worked with publishing companies to get her large-print eBooks. She also gets large-print tests, extended time on tests, and more respect and understanding from professors than she ever expected.
“My professors are so accommodating and willing to work with me, which helps reduce the stress level,” Kimble said. “I don’t think I would be as confident as I am without having them to help me.”
For Kimble, Kent State is her home away from home. She is getting her undergraduate business degree in the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship. She also is a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. As a Student Success Leader, Kimble mentors freshman. She also is a member of the Kent State Chapter of Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Organization (CEO), which fosters the development of entrepreneurial skills.
In the community, Kimble has volunteered for six years for Youth Challenge, an organization that helps with physically disabled teens who have difficulties with recreational and social activities and interactions.
Kimble has raised $40,000 for the organization, created programs and served as the marketing and social media intern.
Kimble is not sure what she plans to do with her education, but she knows that she wants to create businesses that incorporate what she has learned through volunteering with the hope of benefiting people with disabilities. Kimble is considering opening a facility for recreational sports after graduation.
“My brother has cerebral palsy, and I know he wants to do something like this,” she said. “I think it’s super important. I don’t think people realize these kids don’t have the opportunity to play basketball by themselves or swim without assistance.”
A DIAGNOSIS, NOT AN IDENTITY
Kimble credits her family for helping her believe in herself, and she credits Kent State’s Student Accessibility Services for giving her the tools needed to help her continue achieving academic success.
She has advice for anyone with a disability.
“Don’t let others tear you down,” she said. “Don’t let your disability define you. Let it make you stronger. Go out and prove them wrong.”
For more information about Kent State’s Student Accessibility Services, visit www.kent.edu/sas.