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Wesley Farris

Description: Musical introduction with video of Wesley in his wheelchair visiting with staff at Rolling Start. He counsels another patient in the same situation. He is smiling, offering encouragement. He is a fairly young man, wearing tan slacks and a black shirt. He has a graying beard and is wearing eyeglasses.

Narrator: At age 18, Wesley Farris was left a quadriplegic after a tragic auto accident. Through adult education, Wesley has found a direction for his life. He earned his GED, and has gone on to earn his AA degree, his BA degree, has become a counselor for other disabled patients and has started his Master's program in psychology.

Description: Video interview begins in the computer lab.

Wesley: Well, let's see I got in my accident in 1982 and if it wasn't for my parents, I don't think I'd be here. After I came home from the hospital, I didn't want to live. That's the truth. I just didn't want to live. I felt like giving up, you know, just sitting in my room, and just sit there and feel sorry for myself. But, after my mother sort of forced me to get out (smiling)…

Description: Cherry is a young, blond woman wearing a pink blouse. Her interview takes place in the computer lab. An exterior shot of Redlands Adult School is shown.

Cherry Bordelon, Principal: After ten years, he decided, yes he can do things.  And he wanted to, and so it was time that he actually got out and started doing something and he came to us.

Description: Wesley and Cherry's interviews continue.

Wesley: Then in 1993, that's when I started coming to Redlands Adult Education to get my GED.

Cherry: Wesley was an exceptional student, in that, when he came into our office, he had a goal in mind, and he was determined to reach that goal.  And although, we saw his obvious challenge, we decided that if he is that determined; we're going to do everything in our power to help him do what he wants to do.  We just allowed him the very fundamental accommodations and he did all the rest.

Description: Pat is an older man with graying hair and beard. He is wearing a plaid shirt.

Pat Burlingame, Instructor: He came in motivated in knowing what he wanted to do and that was — we game him the opportunity to do that, that's all.

Description: Wesley's interview continues. He holds up his one finger smiling.

Wesley: They seemed all to be all gung ho to help me out because when I first came here, I checked everything out and I said, "Yes, I do believe I can do this, so that's why I started with computers. I took this one finger here, this one finger here, right here and I was peckin' away. That's how I got it all done, just with this one finger, just peckin' away.

Description: George is an older man with white hair wearing a blue shirt and eyeglasses. He speaks matter-of-factly about helping everyone who comes to the school and wants to learn.

George Monroe, Volunteer: Yeah, he was slower, but persistent.  Anybody that wants to study here, we stick with them. 

Description: A picture of Wesley's High School Equivalency Certificate is shown.

Narrator: Wesley earned his GED using computer-assisted instruction at Redlands Adult School.

Description: Wesley's interview continues.

Wesley: Meantime, I was going to Valley College to get my AA degree, but, after, let's see, after Valley College I went to Cal State in San Bernardino and got my BA degree. Then I went over to Rolling Start to get my degrees, well not degrees but certificates.

Narrator: Wesley's volunteered at Loma Linda University Medical Center and at Rolling Start, a non-profit organization that offers services to disabled patients.

Description: Exterior shot of Loma Linda University shown. Wesley is also shown in his motorized wheelchair at Rolling Start facility. He is speaking with a patient to offer encouragement. They are both smiling and nodding. Wesley's interview concludes and he is smiling.

Wesley: I go around talking with the patients to give them encouragement, you know, that there is life after being in a situation like this. As long as I can get out there and try to help people out as much as possible. What motivated me? Well, what motivated me the most was what was I going to do with my life after being in the wheelchair, you know?  Don't ever give up. Don't ever give up. Just keep on pluggin' away. Don't let nobody tell you the you can't do something, because you can do it. Because if I can do it, you know, anybody can do it.