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Southeast staff member overcomes lifelong disability every day on campus
Southeast is a campus full of diverse people. One staff member at Southeast has a lifelong physical disability she lives with and has struggles with when she’s working and maneuvering around campus.
Tameika Morris is a grants coordinator for the Office of Research and Grant Development at Southeast. She has been working for the university for the last 15 years and has loved every minute of it.
At birth, Morris was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, but it has not stopped her from accomplishing anything she has set her mind to.
When Morris was attending college at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. She had two surgeries, that spanned over two summers in 1996 and 1997. The two surgeries transferred ligament and tendons in her right arm to facilitate muscle relaxation, flexibility and movement in her hand.
After graduating from Lincoln University with a Bachelor's of Science in psychology, she received a Master’s of Science in public administration from Southeast.
Getting around Southeast can be challenging due to all the hills, Morris said she uses a motorized scooter to assist her.
Morris has a network of friends to help with assisting her in getting around. Tempest Southall is a Southeast alumna and former mentee who helps her on a daily basis.
Southall has worked for Morris since her freshman year at Southeast in 2008. Southall helps Morris with grocery shopping, getting around to different places and other things as well.
Her disability has gradually gotten worse through the years, but it wasn’t until after her son was born in 2005 when her disability really began to affect her. Her balance started to give out, she had to give up driving and started to use a scooter.
One place Morris said she has difficulty at is the University Center, particularly, the bookstore poses a problem with getting around. The bookstore does not have handicap accessible doors for people with disabilities to use.
Also, Redhawks Market is another place where someone could use help, there isn’t anyway a person with a physical disability to carry their food, belongings and checkout at the same time. A suggestion Morris said was Redhawks Market could have a person on staff to assist with people’s needs.
“If Chartwells, or employees there in the Redhawks Market could designate someone there to provide hands-on assistance on sight, because there is no way if you’re immobile, to get around and navigate the market, not only to purchase, but to select your food,” Morris said.
Morris also commented the university could also improve by notifying people with disabilities where access is for them at events, as well as other announcements.
“I think what would be a really good help, would be to publicize or post on the website, maybe under Disability Services where and how to utilize accessible entries and exits for and different types of services on campus, that way the disabled community knows beforehand where to go and how to get in,” Morris said.
Disability Services does offer disability etiquette on the website
Morris also said there could be pamphlets given to new students and families at Southeast to be made aware of accessibility.
Southeast has made strides toward improving the campus with renovations to buildings. There was a elevator installed in Pacific Hall and the renovation of Academic Hall with extensive work on the interior and exterior.
Morris said the transit department at Southeast has been phenomenal.
“If I had to mention one person on campus that really goes far and beyond the call of duty it would be Kirk Sandfort with transit services,” Morris said. “He makes sure I get wherever I need to be whenever I need to be there, whether it’s at a minutes notice, or well far in advance. He’s my go-to. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of how he helps. Rain, sleet or snow he’s made a way to come get me, and still get me where I need to be in a timely fashion, ”
Working at the Office of Research and Development has been wonderful. Morris said her and all her co-workers get along great and are a tight-knit group. Everyone is genuinely nice and care about one another.
“Everyone is extremely supportive,” Morris said.
One thing Morris wants people to know is no matter what people’s differences are, people still care about others. Morris said Everyone at Southeast follows the Golden rule to treat others the way you want to be treated.
“With everything that’s going on right now, this campus has student and staff that are genuinely nice and don’t mind helping people with disabilities, something as small as opening the door,” Morris said. “And I want them to know that even though you don’t think you’re doing a lot-a smile and a helping hand goes a very long way.”