© 2018 Faith Believe Hope


2017-2018 Winner: Miriam Rodriquez

“I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder in result of my past, sad, and horrible experiences.  Based on my experiences I believe there is still a taboo about mental health and many people regardless of social status or if they have a college degree have misconceptions about what mental health is. I believe visible and non-visible disabilities can’t prevent an individual from pursuing their dreams the only thing that matters is how much work the individual is willing to put in to accomplish those dreams.”


2016-17 Winner: Kevin Butler


My name is Kevin Butler and I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 4 and now use a power wheelchair due to various physical limitations. My doctors are still unsure what my exact diagnosis is because I have symptoms of both Becker and Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. The words "faith, hope, and believe" apply to my life in many ways and have helped me cope with the effects of this disease. I have learned the value of faith in myself and in God throughout the years as numerous abilities so many take for granted became increasingly difficult. Often times I would doubt myself and experienced times in my life when I felt worthless as my independence gradually declined and physical weakness increased. Faith is belief in the unseen and does not only apply to my Christian faith. In order for an individual to have faith in themselves, they must first believe in the strength and potential of their own spirit. I have been blessed with a very sharp mind and my many talents act as a counterweight to my physical limitations. I was recently invited to join the Tau Alpha Pi Engineering Technology National Honor Society due to my academic success. Because I cannot excel physically, I fully commit to my studies because of the faith in myself I have nurtured over the years. Even though I have suffered from rejection in the past, I strive to continuously hold on to the hope that I will have a fulfilling life with a loving wife. Doing so has not been easy because having a progressive muscle disease can make the future look very bleak. Fortunately, because I have implemented faith, hope, and belief into my life, I know that the suffering is only temporary and can be overcome.


2015-16 Winner: Timothy Damon


2014-15 Winner: Adrienne Jaime


2013-14 Winner:Caiti Eberhardt

Caiti's Essay:


How do my disabilities impact my academic potential and how do I overcome this impact?


I was born with disabilities, both physical and developmental, which impact my academic potential.  With the support of great people and sustained personal perseverance, I have learned to adapt and accommodate my own needs; I am on the Dean’s List!  


I was born with a midline defect, bifid uvula, short palate, a head size below the first percentile, and hearing impairment; my parents were informed that I was disabled. I reached milestones well behind my peers and was classified as learning and developmentally handicapped by my Cranial-facial team.  Surgeries improved my hearing and speech, however, only I could improve my educational prognosis.  Today, my strongest character trait is that I strive to achieve at the highest level. I utilize resources and personnel available at the DRC.  I have several learning disabilities, including a severe visual motor integration problem; even though school is difficult, I am willing to dedicate any amount of time necessary to meet my goals. I utilize my time effectively and implement strategies that overcome my disabilities, thus I am successful in school.


As poor luck would have it, I also developed a tumor in my navicular bone.  I have spent more than 800 days in a cast in the last 5 years. I can no longer run or play land based sports; instead of dropping out of sports, I have embraced the water and horseback. Lemons into lemonade! Being involved in campus life has a direct effect on the academic environment; Cal Poly has the equine connection. Thus my physical disability aligned me perfectly with this university where I am learning not only through my academic classes but through the fabulous opportunities available at the farm and equine center!


I am successful because my disabilities have in turn forced me to be the best I can be!



2012-13 WINNER: William Herrera

011-12 Awards Ceremony

Jasen's parents, Pete and Tina Strand, pictured with Dr. Cathy Schmitt Whitaker and winner William Herrera.


William's Essay:


In my life I have gone through many barriers to reach the level of academia that I am currently in. My biggest barrier has been dealing with my muscular dystrophy. When I was small, I was placed into what was then known as the O.H. Department at a local school near my house. It seemed that all my needs were catered. When reaching the second grade, I was transferred to an able bodied class and from there my barriers began.


Once in second grade I started to see changes in my education. Because I was the only sutdent at my elementary school with a disability, I felt alone. I would think will I ever have friends? Will I fit in? It didn't take long for me to make life long friends. My friends helped me break the barrier of not being able to fit in at an abled bodied school. Without them it would have been impossible to get my supplies out of my backpack.


Jumping ahead to my later years my muscular dystrophy had caused me to develop scoliosis. I had to have a major operation on my back, which would limit my mobility even further. Due to this surgery I was out of school for the remainder of the year. Although it might have seemed that I would lose a half a year I continued my schooling at home.


From the point after my surgery I did not have many barriers that I couldn't over come. I believe this is because I believe that God is preparing me for something. That is still true to this day. I have faith that I will reach my true potential and overcome all barriers that lay ahead of me. I hope to inspire anyone else that may have barriers in their lives.


2011-12 WINNER: CRAIG LAIR

2011-12 Awards Ceremony

Jasen's parents, Pete and Tina Strand, pictured with Dr. Cathy Schmitt Whitaker and winner Craig Lair.


Craig's Essay:


I think believe or belief is the key in one’s life. Without belief, hope and faith have no bases. I believe I will succeed in the academic challenges that a student faces. The challenges that are most difficult are the ones that make you think and project personal beliefs to self and others. By definition, belief has no truth. My goal of success in academic encounters does not make my belief true. Faith is next in line of meaning to me. As I meet the academic problems that are presented to me, hard work and diligent has led to success in my academic life. Therefore, my belief in success is converted to faith. I know that if I work hard and believe, success in my goal to become a mechanical engineer is possible. Hope in my opinion is used to freely in society. One hopes for many things during life and should save hope for the meaningful aspects of life. What “Hope” means to me is leaving success in someone else’s control. I may hope for the goal of becoming a mechanical engineer but ultimately I depend on the professors of giving me passing grades in my academic career. I believe in success, hard work gives me faith, and the combination of belief and faith generate hope of becoming a mechanical engineer.


The barriers that have occurred in my academic life are the challenges of writing during tests and lecture, and overcoming the side effects of the medication taken. To overcome the walls of writing, I have obtained help at the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and personal doctors. The DRC has provided me with scribes to write for me during tests. Also, I have recruited friends in class to write lecture notes for me. Furthermore, the doctors have helped by prescribing the right medication to reduce the shaking in my hand. In taking the medication to help with the shaking, I get very sleepy to the point of almost passing out during lecture. Focus on the professor’s lecture has been difficult. Overcoming focus on the material means I have to study a little harder during the homework sessions. Finally, I have become dependent on others to overcome some barriers in school and in life.Here is my winning essay. I think believe or belief is the key in one’s life. Without belief, hope and faith have no bases. I believe I will succeed in the academic challenges that a student faces. The challenges that are most difficult are the ones that make you think and project personal beliefs to self and others. By definition, belief has no truth. My goal of success in academic encounters does not make my belief true. Faith is next in line of meaning to me. As I meet the academic problems that are presented to me, hard work and diligent has led to success in my academic life. Therefore, my belief in success is converted to faith. I know that if I work hard and believe, success in my goal to become a mechanical engineer is possible. Hope in my opinion is used to freely in society. One hopes for many things during life and should save hope for the meaningful aspects of life. What “Hope” means to me is leaving success in someone else’s control. I may hope for the goal of becoming a mechanical engineer but ultimately I depend on the professors of giving me passing grades in my academic career. I believe in success, hard work gives me faith, and the combination of belief and faith generate hope of becoming a mechanical engineer.

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