Miss Wheelchair SC Promotes Disability Awareness - DatelineCarolina

Ms. Wheelchair SC Promotes Disability Awareness

Julia holds onto another student's backpack to make it across the Pendleton Street bridge. Julia holds onto another student's backpack to make it across the Pendleton Street bridge.

By: Alex Heaton

The University of South Carolina has its very own beauty queen, but she's not your typical student. Julia Rodes is Ms. Wheelchair South Carolina.

A third year biology student, Julia faces many challenges every day as she tries moving around USC's busy campus.   
This past summer Julia was in a motorcycle accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down.

"I am very new to the disability world," she said. "I spent the entire summer at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia and my first real week back was also my first day of school here and I didn't know much about the cobble stones."
She didn't let that stop her, though. Julia competed for Ms. Wheelchair South Carolina in August, won, and returned to school this fall to follow her dreams of becoming a doctor.

"If I can still smile and I can still have my dreams then everyone else that has a disability I would want them to know that too," Julia said.

Even before the accident, Julia was considered disabled though. She suffered from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from being sexually abused as a teenager.

"I had PTSD severe enough for it to be considered a disability and you know when someone would brush by me or make a loud noise and no one could tell that it had just given me a panic attack," she said.
Julia is using her disabilities to become an advocate for disability awareness.

 "Its your turn to now be your own advocate say what you need, say what's hurting you and say what's not going right and get that help that you need for yourself, speak up," Julia said.

Julia says life throws you curve balls, but she took control of her life and is not letting her disabilities get the best of her.

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