College Grad Overcomes Challenges to Succeed
OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe woman marked a milestone on Sunday and gave her mother a Mother’s Day gift she thought she’d never see.
When Carmen Thomas was born 22 years ago without arms and under developed legs, her mother knew her daughter would have some challenges. What she didn’t realize then was that her last born child had a lot of spunk and determination.
Carmen Thomas received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Applied Behavior from the University of Kansas on Saturday. Karen Thomas says seeing her daughter on the stage accepting her degree is something she never thought she’d see.
“I was ready to take her out of school the first day of kindergarten I said this is not for her so no I never thought I’d get her to graduate, but Carmen has done it all herself, she’s proven herself,” Thomas said.
Thomas says her daughter was determined to tackle her education.
“To write she uses a pen or pencil in her mouth,” she said. “She doesn’t have a note taker she doesn’t want a note taker she wants to do it all on her own, she had no one helping her in the class other than someone getting her books out of her backpack.”
At her graduation party, Carmen worked the room thanking her family and friends for the support. The KU grad says now that college is under her belt, she’s just ready to hit the workforce. Carmen hopes to work with autistic children in a clinical setting.
“I have a disability so I know what they are going through and so I can advocate for them better most people would who don’t understand life with disability,” college grad Carmen Thomas said.
Thomas’ college roommate Courtney Osteen says she just wants her friend’s dreams to come true and she hopes she lands a job working with kids.
“I know she’s struggled through a lot, I’ve seen her deal with the struggles and the problems that have been pushed on her cause of people’s ignorance and she just pushes through it,” Osteen said. “She takes it in stride.”
She says despite the fact that Carmen was born without arms, she makes a positive experience out of every experience and knows she’ll do well because of her passion for life and her love for children.
Karen Thomas says she hopes employers will look past her daughter’s disability and give her a chance to fulfill her dreams.