By Kimberly Brown
“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” — Christian D. Larson
Deborah Dye, the 2016 Distinguished Graduate from the accounting technologies program, chose this quote from Christian D. Larson, an author of inspirational books, to submit to the Distinguished Graduate program.
It summarizes the philosophy that she said led to her being selected.
Dye, a full-time administrative assistant in the chemistry program since Sept. 1, was a nontraditional college student.
She earned a degree from this college after beginning a part-time job in that department in 2012.
She graduated in December 2015 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in accounting technology with Presidential Honors.
She is also a Tier 1 scholar of the Student Leadership Institute, a district leadership program.
Dye, 60, did not let physical hardships keep her from achieving her goals.
She had Fuchs corneal dystrophy, a disease that affects the cornea and causes a gradual decline in vision.
In her second semester at this college, she had problems with her vision and by December 2014 had begun aggressive treatment from a corneal specialist.
Within four months, her eyes became considerably worse and she was told in June 2015 that surgery couldn’t wait much longer.
Dye had left what she considered her four hardest classes and decided to take them all in fall 2015.
She had already registered with the office of disabled student services and was able to get extra time for online exams and larger print exams.
She used a page magnifier to read textbooks.
Through all this, she kept a 4.0 grade-point average and applied for the Distinguished Graduate Program in fall 2015.
“It was something I had my eye on right from the beginning,” she said. “It was something to look forward to.”
Dye said she struggled through accounting and other classes but worked hard and tried to be prepared.
“That’s what got me through a lot, being prepared,” Dye said.
She only had one class she considered easy, ACCT 2301, Principles of Financial Accounting.
Dye said she had great instructors and that her husband and family were supportive.
Also, as part of the Distinguished Graduate program, she included an essay with her application that told about her experiences in college and the influence instructors had on her.
She also participated in a service project, helping with distributing caps and gowns for graduation.
When she was notified that she had been selected, she was excited and proud.
At the Distinguished Graduate orientation, Lauren Sjulin, senior coordinator of former students and alumni, told the group of selected graduates they were “the best of the best.”
“It made everything I went through here all worthwhile,” she said.
Overcoming vision problems and difficult classes wasn’t her only challenge.
When she was leaving the Distinguished Graduate orientation Feb. 25, 2016, she was struck by a van at Dewey Place and Main Avenue.
“That day changed my life forever,” Dye said.
Although she suffered head, arm and leg injuries, she was able to use a cane to walk the stage at commencement in May, wearing her purple cord and Distinguished Graduate medal.
She tells others who want to achieve this honor, “Strive to do your best in college. Strive for those A’s. Sit up front in class. Work hard and be very prepared.”
After going through nine eye surgeries, including two corneal transplants and two cataract removals, Dye no longer suffers from eye disease.
“The fact that she was recognized wasn’t surprising,” said Dr. Teanna Staggs, chair of the natural sciences department and Dye’s supervisor. “It just exemplifies the person she is.”
Dye said she’s happy with her job and her eyesight and she’s optimistic about recovering from her remaining injuries.
As her inspirational quote recommends, she still believes in herself.
The deadline to submit applications for Distinguished Graduates has been extended to March 1.
For more information, visit alamo.edu/sac/distinguished-graduates/.