The Birmingham Area Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities honored UAB Department of Psychology senior Lauren McCartney with its Student of the Year award.
McCartney has Oculocutaneous Albinism, which is an autosomal recessive, genetic disorder involving the pigmentation of the body. In the absence of pigment, the visual system develops differently which results in vision impairment. Her vision is 20/200.
“She hasn’t let her disability keep her from doing what she wants to do,” says Allison Solomon, M.S., director of UAB Disability Support Services. “I wish all students could take her approach in life and in their studies at UAB.”
McCartney also works in UAB’s Youth Safety Laboratory, volunteers as a rape-response advocate with the Birmingham Crisis Center and interns for the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation where she works with its Songs for Sight campaign and families.
“Lauren talks with parents and assures them that their child can have a normal life just as she does,” says Dawn DeCarlo, O.D., M.S., director of UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation. “She excels at comforting and explaining that legal blindness does not need to be a handicap and that is more powerful than any words I could ever share with a parent.”
“The fact that there are awards like this that recognize the accomplishments of people with their various impairments is absolutely tremendous,” says McCartney. “It speaks volumes for the organizations and advocates who provide so many opportunities to succeed and to the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity. Personally, I am humbled, honored and blessed.”