Some people find the inspiration for their life calling in a book or a movie. Others find it through the experience of a family member or mentor. While still in high school, Bayfield County native George Tuttle found his on a ski slope in Vermont. George and his brother were part of an adaptive downhill skiing program for people who are visually impaired. “It was really geared toward adults,” remembers George.
That turned out to be a good thing.
“There were lawyers, teachers and physical therapists there,” George says. “Looking at the skiers and learning about their careers, it showed me that even with a visual impairment you can do anything you want.”
Now in his junior year at Carroll University, George, a 2022 Council Scholarship recipient, is on his way to concurrent degrees in Physical Therapy and Health Care Administration. If that physical therapist back in Vermont only knew. “Health care administration is a nice combination with Physical Therapy,” George says. “My health business courses give me a good background on how the healthcare system works.”
George’s career foresight was an excellent match with Carroll University. The school offers a unique “early admit” program that simultaneously accepted George into school as an undergraduate physical therapy student while holding a seat for him in the physical therapy graduate program. “This really helps keep me focused on classwork now, without the worry of where or what grad program I may or may not get into. It helps keep me motivated.”
Motivation doesn’t appear to be much of a problem for George. He was fluent in Portuguese before he graduated from high school. He was a member of the U.S. Para-Olympic Team. He currently divides his time between a full class load and working for the campus Office of Diversity and Inclusion. That’s where he participates in a program that helps high schoolers from underserved backgrounds find their way into college, graduate, and land jobs in the health care industry.
George has achromatopsia, a non-degenerative condition that accommodations at Carroll, such as note takers and time-and-a-half on exams, have helped address. He recently worked with Disability Services at Carroll to change his exam environment to low light / low distractions. His experience has prompted Carroll to tackle heretofore unaddressed accessibility needs at the school. He says the administration has responded.
“People don’t have a ton of knowledge about visual impairment,” George says. “Being visually impaired is an opportunity to reach out to others about our struggles and how they affect our lives. Opportunities to teach perseverance.”
George credits his family for helping him develop confidence and self-esteem. “I think it was just the way we were raised. To look at things from a positive angle,” he says. “It also comes from taking opportunities that were offered to me. If an opportunity was given to us, we were taught to just say yes. You build optimism and confidence by overcoming those challenges.”
And the Council has also provided an assist along the way. “It’s really great to know the Council has my back to help me get through school,” George says.