Profile

Garrett Burgess, Chemistry



Hometown:

Chelmsford

“UMass Lowell was the first school that I looked at that made me feel wanted.”

Garrett Burgess’s future is bright and his goals have him focused. Like many students, he hopes to earn his degree. He would also like to work for the FBI and “arrest bad guys.” In addition to these career goals, Garrett is also focused on some personal goals: regaining his eyesight and the ability to walk.

The freshman chemistry major with an interest in forensics suffers from paralysis following a childhood car accident. His vision loss came as a result of surgical complications following the accident. Despite his physical challenges, Garrett anticipates nothing but success when it comes to his career at UMass Lowell.

“Being blind and in a wheelchair is very challenging and not many people in my situation are able to get a college degree,” he says. “I feel fortunate to be able to do this and lucky to have a school that has pledged to accommodate my needs.”

“UMass Lowell was the first school I looked at that made me feel ‘wanted,’” continues Garrett. “Other schools were nice, but had lots of issues with accessibility for students in wheelchairs and with vision impairments. At UMass Lowell I was told that the University would accommodate my needs so I could enjoy my college life.”

Garrett does admit to being nervous about taking certain subjects like chemistry and calculus that are difficult to learn without eyesight. But faculty and staff have helped, including one calculus professor who “has taught blind students before and has given me the confidence that I can do it too.” He also credits Jody Goldstein of Student Disability Services with being extremely helpful and “always looking for solutions.”

Garrett is just as hardworking outside of the classroom. He actively volunteers for the Travis Roy Foundation to raise awareness and funds for people with spinal cord injuries.