Greg at the May 2012 NIU Law School Graduation.
Greg Anderson wasn't always confined to a wheelchair. In his early 20s, he was like many other young students. His dream was to be a history teacher, but in 1997 he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of multiple sclerosis. "I got through half of my student teaching and I knew I didn't have the energy to stand up in front of a classroom," Greg says.
By the time Greg had completed his bachelor's degree at a small Michigan liberal arts college, MS had left him a quadriplegic. He took some time to sort out his future and his medical condition.
Discrimination on the Job Serves as a Turning Point
A temporary position with a telemarketer proved to be a life-changer, as his eyes were opened to a world of discrimination to those with disabilities. "Because of my disability, I needed my desk raised and they just never got around to fixing the situation," Greg says.
After leaving his job, he filed a lawsuit that was settled out of court. Ironically, Greg says, this "dead-end" pointed him in the next direction. "It introduced me to the law and the impact it can have."
Memorial Scholarship Helps Open the Door to Law School
Desiring to be an advocate for others, Greg applied to NIU Law School in 2005. He says people, including his doctor, discouraged him from studying law because of his disabilities, but he was determined. With significant help from the E.J. Zeke Giorgi Memorial Scholarship for public service law students, Greg completed his law degree cum laude in May 2011.
There have been bumps along the way. Greg says that at one point the joystick on the wheelchair was broken and the only way to move it was from an auxiliary control in the back. "My fellow law students worked up a schedule to get me to classes," he says. "The community mindset of NIU College of Law and the generosity of family and friends, including Mr. Giorgi's daughter Barbara Vella, have been priceless elements to my endeavor," Greg says.
Recently Greg took the bar exam and is looking forward to being Gregory T. Anderson, Esquire. But even more important, he says he is looking forward to helping others in his new profession.
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