FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Executive Director of Communications and External Relations
Citrus College Student with Disabilities Presents at Research Conference, Wins Award
Glendora, Calif. (May 1, 2019) – With the aid of assistive technology, Elina Hughes, a communications major at Citrus College, recently became the first student with a disability to ever present at the annual Student Research Conference presented by Honors Transfer Council of California (HTCC).
According to an article from the June 4, 2017, issue of Logos Magazine, Elina was born with athetoid cerebral palsy, a neuromotor disorder caused by damage to the developing brain. She has relied on specialized educators, aides and assistive technology throughout her educational career. After graduating from high school, Elina enrolled at Citrus College to pursue a degree in communications. Speech impairment, involuntary limb movement and frequent muscle cramps have made her journey challenging, but Elina has shown incredible resolve, becoming a leader in the process.
When Elina submitted a paper in her honors history class about the United States government's policy on disabled military members during the American Revolution and Civil War, her instructor, Brian Waddington, realized that her research had the potential to be accepted at the HTCC Student Research Conference.
"I was very impressed with Elina's research," said Mr. Waddington. "As I reviewed her work, I found myself learning about content I hadn't seen covered before. It was clear to me that Elina's disability had given her a passion for her research and a unique perspective into various subjects, helping to distinguish her research from others."
Using a personal assistant and an Augmentative and Alternative Communication program developed by AssistiveWare, Elina shared her research before a large audience at the University of Irvine, California. Following her presentation, the conference committee presented Elina with an award for outstanding achievement. Her story and her fortitude have inspired hundreds.
"Despite Elina's communication challenges, she has successfully and triumphantly moved forward as a communications major," stated Jennifer McLeod, a former counselor from the college's Disabled Student Programs and Services program. "Elina's accomplishment is a reminder to not put limitations on our students about what we think they can or cannot do. I am incredibly proud of and inspired by Elina."
"Elina Hughes' dedication and resourcefulness serve as a model for all Citrus College students to emulate," said Dr. Geraldine M. Perri, superintendent/president of Citrus College. "The entire college community is proud of Elina's outstanding accomplishment, and we look forward to seeing her academic career continue to flourish."