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Robert Dennis Enriquez

#115 Robert Dennis Enriquez, Student
(Psycology as a transfer student from University of Southern California.)

Passionate, hardworking, loving, dedicated and forgiving are a few things that I have been described to be. I am passionate in what I set out to do. That is why I am back in college at the ripe old age of fifty five. I have always believed in a hard day’s work and sometimes nights. My position as Director of Disabled Student Services at the World Education is my passion and venue to help others faced with a disability. My dedication is to myself in being the best husband, father, grandfather and community leader as humanely possible. It was not always this way.

It has been twenty years since I was involved in a life threatening boating accident which left me completely blind. During a race to Catalina Island I crossed a wake of a 400,000 ton oil tanker. The impact of the wake flipped my boat while traveling at 85 miles per hour. I was fished out of the sea and helicoptered to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California where I spent the next ten days in a coma clinging to life. When I woke up I was surrounded by names without faces. I did not remember what had happened and I was unable to see. The accident left me blind.

After ten months of recovery I knew I was faced with many new challenges in life. I sought help in dealing with my limitations. The recommended treatment allowed me to become better aware of what my limitations were and I was able to set new personal goals. I enrolled in classes for the blind at the Braille Institute of Los Angeles, California where I learned to manage my life as a newly blind person. I then became an instructor of sensory awareness and mobility training. I enjoyed the opportunity to help others who were faced with similar challenges as me. I was then honored with an invitation from U.S. Congressman Marty Martinez to work in Washington D.C. as a congressional lobbyist for the rights of citizens with disabilities. My experience in the Capitol was very fulfilling as I sincerely believe I made a difference in thousands of lives of those living with disabilities.

In year 2000 I was chosen as a candidate for experimental optic nerve reconnection surgeries. After twenty four successful surgeries I am now partially sighted with 20/500 sight in each eye. Today, with the assistance of technology I am able to appreciate the success of a new career and the furthering of my formal education. It is my goal to continue to be of service to those who are challenged with a disability. I am confident I would have not had this opportunity if not for the professional help I was able to receive and for those who believed in me.

Now, it is my turn to give back to a community who was there for me when I was in need. As a doctor of psychology I will continue to work with those who are newly faced with a disability. This specialty is needed in our aging community and I have my sight on filling that need. In addition, the difference I can make through education using my personal experiences, developed skills of motivation and a formal education I will be able to better reach out to thousands of citizens faced with blindness to encourage them in pursuing their academic goals. This is my promised legacy and it can be realized with your investment in me. Together we will make a difference.