Disabled students get new chance

by Amber Kispert

Robert and Gail Buuck have a long-term interest in disability issues. For them it’s personal. Their son, John, is confined to a wheelchair due to a neurological disease.

That’s why the Buucks were moved to action when they discovered the University did not have a scholarship program for students with disabilities.

In 2004, they established Buuck Family Scholarship Endowment Fund to help disabled students in situations similar to that of their son.

The Buuck Family Scholarship and the Angela Brooke Warner CF Scholarship awarded six University students financial scholarships at a luncheon Friday at Coffman Union.

The purpose of the scholarships is to provide other students struggling with disabilities access to higher education.

Over the last five years the Buucks have donated a total of $270,000 to the Buuck Family Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Approximately $20,000 will be awarded this year said Sheila Fox Wassink , a disability specialist from the University Disability Services.

In order to receive such a scholarship, a recipient must be an undergraduate seeking a degree, be in good academic standing and have a physical disability, she said.

Shade Osifuye , an African American studies and biology senior who suffers from cerebral palsy, received one of the scholarships.

Osifuye said the cerebral palsy causes a tightening of the muscles in her right arm and leg.

Throughout her life, Osifuye said she has had to overcome the name-calling and the pressures from other students.

“Everyone has obstacles,” she said, “You just need to know how to approach them.”

Osifuye attributed her Christian faith as a big reason for her continued success.

“My faith enabled me to overcome those obstacles,” she said.

She will use her scholarship to help finance the remainder of her college education and plans to study abroad in Kenya during the spring semester, she said.

One day she’d like to enroll in the pathological assistant program at Duke University so she can become a licensed pathological assistant, she said.

This year, Jonathan Flath , a mathematics junior, received the Angela Brooke Warner Scholarship.

The scholarship is named after Angela Brooke Warner, who died at the age of 21 in 2003 after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis. After her death, the Angela Warner Foundation was established in her honor.

The foundation gives preference to students with cystic fibrosis.

Flath described his fight with cystic fibrosis as an ongoing battle and the biggest obstacle he has faced in maintaining his health.

Flath said he plans to use the scholarship to help pay for the remainder of his college education. After graduation, he plans to pursue his master’s degree and continue on to a career in cryptography or statistics, he said.

The other four recipients were not present at the luncheon due to scheduling conflicts.