Vince Skelton: A Real Warrior
When students come to Merrimack College, they are named “warriors.” It’s a nickname mainly used to describe the school’s athletes. But every student at Merrimack has their own battle and every student has a reason why they are a true warrior. Every edition, The Beacon will talk to a student to find out what makes them who they are and why they see themselves as a warrior.
Vince Skelton is a student here at Merrimack who is a thriving warrior amongst us all. What some may or may not know is that Vince is an Engineering student, a member of the honors program, works at the math center, and is a math fellow. Although he has been extremely successful so far in life, he has had to overcome some obstacles pertaining to his health. Cerebral Palsy is a condition where there is an injury to the brain when it is still developing, this usually happens before a child is born and it affects body movements and muscle coordination. A person with CP has trouble controlling their muscles and at times their limbs will become stiff.
Here’s Skelton’s story:
So what makes you a real warrior? Everyone has a story. Do you have anything you want to talk about first off that makes you, you? What obstacles have you had to overcome?
When I was born I had an injury to my brain that caused Cerebral Palsy. Because of the stroke, my muscles aren’t automatically activated from the brain, my reaction time is slow, and my muscles are very tight. The original prognosis was not being able to walk or talk but I was able to overcome that with a lot of physical therapy. My family never thought I was going to be able to accomplish the things I am doing now, like going to college and acquiring a good education. Now I’m in college, getting a great education, in the honors program, I’m a math fellow, and even working at the math center, all the while studying mechanical engineering.”
So would you see are family is very supportive and helpful?
Yeah they are very supportive of everything I do. Around eighth grade into freshman year of high school I found a love and passion for skiing. I began downhill skiing and racing and actually went on to then race in the Paralympics.”
Would you say CP affects you academically at all?
CP affects me a little academically, but I feel like it doesn’t hold me back at all academically. I have a really good GPA and find a lot of success in my studies of mechanical engineering.
What are your plans for after college?
I want to potentially teach people to ski and maybe even become an adjunct professor. I’d like to use my mechanical engineering degree too, but I’m not sure for what just yet.
Growing up was it really hard in middle school and high school?
Yeah growing up I had to figure out the best ways to learn for myself and to figure out how to be successful in overcoming my diversities and challenges. Actually, in middle and elementary school I played sports, but in high school I couldn’t because I acquired a delayed reaction. That’s when I started skiing and it changed my life physically, mentally, and socially.
What did you do over this past summer?
I climbed Mount Washington over the summer. We were supposed to climb to the top, but the weather was so bad that we could not go all the way up. The elevation was 4,000 feet and the climb was about three miles long total.
How did you feel after you climbed that far?
I felt really good, I was so happy that I was able to do it and to be able to show people that I am able to do what anyone else’s abled body can do too. A lot of my friends came out as well so it was amazing to receive the support from them in this feat.
Do you plan on helping or teaching people who have disabilities like you do?
Yes, I want to do motivational speaking to groups down the road maybe and share my story, motivating others, like me or not, to never give up. I want to show them that they can do anything that they put their minds to, that truly anything is possible as long as you put energy, time, and your whole heart into it.