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Nursing and Health Studies Student Wins Disability Scholarship

Nancy Oduro

"I know I’m this way for a reason, and whatever I do in the future will have some sort of impact and purpose,” says Nancy Oduro (NHS’13), who has a nerve injury that affects arm, hand and shoulder movement.

March 12, 2012 – A School of Nursing & Health Studies student has won a competitive American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) scholarship.

The winner, health care management & policy major Nancy Oduro (NHS’13), has Erb’s palsy, a nerve injury that affects arm, hand and shoulder movement.

Oduro says she has only partial feeling and limited movement of her right arm and limited movement of her fingers on that side.

Innovative Work

One of two recipients chosen from a national applicant pool of more than 100 students, Oduro learned about the scholarship from Joan Burggraf Riley (NHS’76, G’97), an assistant professor of human science and nursing at the school.

“Nancy truly lives the life of ‘a woman for others,’ ” Riley says. “Her deep commitment to social justice is evident in her innovative and highly effective work to eliminate health disparities experienced by persons with disabilities.”

Growing up with a disability was difficult, she says, and classmates teased her.

Supportive Parents

“I had very low self–esteem growing up because it was all I could think about, even if no one noticed,” Oduro says. “For me, it was the most noticeable thing, and I let that stop me from doing a lot of things.”

But she also says her “parents raised me to never look at myself as different or any less than anyone else.”

Though it was demanding, the Georgetown student says she took ballet and piano.

“I got turned down from several piano classes because of my disability until my mom finally found a great teacher for me in 6th grade who helped me play with personal arm adjustments,” she notes.

Getting Comfortable

Oduro hopes to pursue a career in international health care after graduation, focusing on the reformation of the health care system in Ghana, where she studied abroad.

During her freshman year at Georgetown, Oduro joined Diversability – a student organization dedicated to raising awareness and reshaping conceptions of what it means to have a disability.

That helped her feel more comfortable talking about her disability and, for the first time, connect to other students with disabilities.

“For the first time in my life, I met someone who also had Erb’s palsy,” said Oduro. “She was a senior in the McDonough School of Business, and she had confidence and poise. It was so inspirational for me.”

She also got involved with Lime Connect Fellowship – a national leadership program designed for rising juniors with disabilities.

“Most of my growth in college has come from my work in Diversability and Lime,” she said. “I now realize that every challenge that I’ve gone through, every difficult time, every rejection that was anyway connected to my disability has helped me so much in the long run … I know I’m this way for a reason, and whatever I do in the future will have some sort of impact and purpose.”

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