Different abilities advocate to graduate and walk across Lynn’s stage
Published May. 02, 2012
Stephanie Hammerman, a 22-year-old senior, New York native and well-known disability awareness advocate who has cerebral palsy, will graduate from Lynn University with a Bachelor of Arts in advertising and public relations from the College of International Communication on Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m., in the deHoernle Sports and Cultural Center.
“There were people who doubted I would ever read, write or speak, let alone go off to college to gain a degree,” said Hammerman. “It’s hard to express how much this means to me – and to my family.”
Hammerman, who lives by the motto: Failure is not an option, will prove to herself and others that she did it. Not only will she graduate from Lynn University with honors, but Hammerman, who generally uses a wheelchair to get around campus, will walk across the stage using her crutches to accept her degree.
“I am ecstatic about walking across the stage,” said Hammerman. “I have worked so hard and accomplished more than I could have ever dreamed of in four years. If I was able to do one thing with my life, it would have to be making sure that people’s perceptions of the ‘disabled’ are changed. Everyone is as capable as they choose to be.”
Fittingly, Lynn’s commencement speaker Peter Diamandis will discuss innovation and inspiration during his presentation. Hammerman has used both innovation and inspiration to make a difference on campus during her four years as an undergraduate student.
“She changed Lynn’s culture,” said Dawn Simounet, coordinator of student involvement for leadership.
As a sophomore in October 2009, Hammerman organized activities and brought the first annual Disability Awareness Month to Lynn. She worked closely with Student Life to bring an accessible shuttle to campus so those with disabilities could easily access transportation; and she represents the university as an official Lynn blogger.
“I will forever take pride in all that I have accomplished when it comes to advocacy, but I worked for all of this so I could live a fulfilling life,” said Hammerman. “I will never allow my different abilities to dictate my future, and I can only hope that this newfound awareness gives future students the confidence to live a life without limits despite a medical diagnosis.”
In addition to Hammerman’s work on campus, she has also made a difference in the local community. Just this year, she decided to competitively take up hand cycling. In December 2011, she was featured in the Sun Sentinel and completed a 26.2 mile marathon in just over 4 hours and 30 minutes using a hand cycle. Two months later, in February 2012, Hammerman completed a half marathon in just an hour and a half.
“People can believe in you all they want,” said Hammerman, “but it’s when you believe in yourself that the true transformations occurs.”
Following graduation, Hammerman, will continue her education at Nova Southeastern University pursuing a masters degree in higher education and student affairs.
“While at Lynn, I recognized how influential professionals in student life can be on students, “ said Hammerman. In the future, Hammerman hopes to work in student affairs for a university and to make a positive difference in students' lives.