Any Body, Any Study?: Accessibility Challenges at Cornell

Conan Gillis ’21 is one of many math majors in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is also one of many residents in the Flora Rose House on West Campus. What distinguishes him from most of his peers, however, is that he is one of fewer than 20 Cornell students who require a wheelchair for their daily life.

Student Advocates Call for Disability Resource Center

“Differences, specifically impairments, only become disabilities when faced with a society [not] appropriately configured to their specific situations,” Gillis said, noting that Cornell’s natural and built environment can often pose unique challenges to those who are physically impaired.

GUEST ROOM | Living With a Disability at Cornell

I am a student at an Ivy League university, where I plan to major in mathematics with a possible double major in government. I earned an A+ for my first college math class, Theoretical Calculus II, and have advocated in front of three New York State senators, the lieutenant governor and the state comptroller. I have actively participated in the sport of fencing for more than five years, and hope  to one day become a certified referee. I have a rare congenital disorder called Larsen’s Syndrome which affects my muscular-skeletal system and has left me unable to walk. I require 24/7 nursing care, and assistance with many activities such as showering, preparing meals and transferring onto the toilet.