Meet Ryan

August is notorious for back-to-school time. Just as the elementary and middle and high school students head back, so do college students. One college student, Ryan, an Independent Living Assistance client, will start his fifth semester at St. Charles Community College.

Instead of attending classes at the college, Ryan takes online courses. He is able to get his general education classes out of the way as he figures out want he wants to study. “I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do,” Ryan said. “The online classes are nice because I get to take a lot of different classes.”

For this semester, he is enrolled in 3D Animation and World Religions. “I like video games, so I thought the 3D Animation class may be something worth looking into,” Ryan said. He thinks the World Religions class will be very interesting. “Me being a Christian, I would like to see what other religions are all about,” he said. “I’m looking forward to finding out the perspective of different religions and not be so ignorant about other religions.”

Although Ryan had to take some time off school after high school and during his move, he knew it was something he wanted to try. “As a person with a disability, I struggled with my decision to further my education,” Ryan said. “But, I realized there’s no hurt in trying. No one should be afraid to get outside their comfort zone.”

For the most part, Ryan enjoys school. “There are some subjects that are not my favorite, but for the most part, I’m a good student,” Ryan said. “I have a lot of time on my hands, so why not go to school? I might as well further my education and eventually use it to get a career.”

That’s why he’s most excited about his 3D Animation course. “I think it’s going to be really fun,” Ryan said. “It’s been something that’s been on my mind for years now. I want to head into the video game industry in some capacity, so taking the 3D Animation class will help me decide if I want to do animation for video games. Nowadays, video games have evolved so much that’s there’s so many job openings for different aspects. This class will help me decide what best suites me and my skill set.”

His independence and way of thinking hasn’t always been so positive. He credits his faith, case manager at the Developmental Disabilities Resource Board of St. Charles County and Community Living for helping him in his time of need. He was staying with a friend while his case manager was helping him find a place to live. When following up on one of the leads, it was actually next door to his friend’s house, which benefited Ryan as he didn’t have to worry about transportation. “It was very much a God thing,” Ryan said. The house is fully adaptable with ramps and a walk-in shower. “It’s a very nice house,” he said. “I got really blessed with that whole thing.”

With the help of Kene Philips, Community Living’s Independent Living Assistance Instructor, Ryan makes goals that will help maintain his independence in his home and community. “Community Living really helped me with finances,” Ryan said. “It’s not so hard now, but before I was worried about how I was going to deal with it when I’ve never done it before. The staff made sure I knew what I was doing and helped me keep track of my money by helping me create a budget.”

His current goals are exploring the community, making doctor’s appointments, maintaining benefits and pursuing an education. He has not let his disability hold him back. “Life is too short to be down all the time,” Ryan said. “I’m just making the best of what I have. That’s what my advice is to everyone, whether you have a disability or not – just make the best of life.”