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Shawn Arnold ('76, '81M)

Career counselor, advocate for people with disabilities

Photo: Shawn Arnold

Early in her career as a counselor helping people to enter the workforce, Shawn witnessed firsthand the discrimination experienced by people with disabilities. "I could not believe how so many talented people could be treated like they weren't even there," she says. Shawn decided to change the system. Over the years, she has worked on college campuses to secure classroom accommodations, special technology and services for those who might otherwise have the door to education closed to them. She has advised professors and co-workers on the need to remove all barriers to full participation -- not just physical obstacles, but also the barriers of attitude and perception. Along the way, she's taken the time to raise another potential world changer. Thirty years after her graduation from JMU, Shawn was back on Madison's campus, this time to celebrate her son's graduation.

"Watching a student walk, be guided, or wheel across the stage to receive a diploma gives me the greatest sense of pride. Knowing that I played a small role in maximizing that student's potential for success, for having the kind of life we tend to take for granted, is an amazing feeling."