Tracy Belcher has a passion for helping others reach for their dreams. Until recently, however, she believed her own dream of college degree was out of reach due to her visual impairment. Over the years, she had started and stopped college classes, each time stopping out before earning a credential because of the limitations of her vision.
“When I came to LCCC last fall, my first stop was Accessibly Services because I wasn’t sure it was even possible for me to earn a degree,” Belcher recalled.
The credits she had accumulated in previous years put her just a few semesters away from an associate degree, and with the technology and support available through the Accessibility Services office, her visual impairment would not be a barrier this time.
In May, Belcher will walk across the stage at Lorain County Community College’s Commencement ceremony and receive an associate of arts degree. In December 2017, she earned a certificate in success coaching and mentoring.
LCCC recently rang the bell in the Bass Library to celebrate Belcher’s graduation. The staff in the Enrollment, Financial and Career Services at LCCC started a special tradition of ringing large bells to draw attention to students’ success. The bells are rang for event like job offers, internships and in Belcher’s case, filing for graduation.
Joining Belcher for the bell ringing were Jody Haserodt and Rachel Wagner from LCCC’s Accessibility Services office and Sarah Hudson, Belcher’s academic advisor. It was the support of Haserodt, Wagner and Hudson that helped make her degree possible, Belcher said. The group was quick to point out that it is Belcher’s own determination that is getting her across the finish line.
“Tracy is a perfect example that you can really do anything when you put your mind to it,” Hudson said.
Belcher said she returned to LCCC last fall after a life transition. With her degree and certificate now achieved, said she would like to start a business to help other people dealing with life transitions or other challenging issues. Overcoming challenges has become a specialty for Belcher.
“When you face so many physical barriers every day that challenge you, thinking about coming to college can seem too hard,” Belcher said. “But there are so many accommodations and technology available to students at LCCC that it makes anything possible.”
Now that she has gained confidence in the classroom, Belcher is considering continuing her education.
“I now know what’s possible,” she said. “Earning my associate degree makes me believe now that I could continue on for a bachelor’s degree.”
She is currently the minister of education, communication and outreach at the First Congregational Church of Christ in Elyria.