Car Accident Leads to Law School
Andrew Scott credits his car accident and resulting paraplegia as an unintended catalyst to a personal life plan. “Prior to my accident, I was not a serious student and had no life plans. I believe I spent three years at a junior college and acquired about 30 hours of class credits prior to the accident.” In the ten years post-accident, Scott earned a double major BBA in Economics and Management and an MBA, and will complete his second year of law school at The Pennsylvania State University, The Dickinson School of Law next month.
Growing up, Scott watched his older sister, who was born with a hearing impairment, break through personal barriers and never slow down. She refused to submit to special programs that limited her access to a mainstream environment, graduating salutatorian in her high school class. Early in Scott’s rehabilitation he recalls,, “Relearning how to bathe and dress myself, to sit up straight, and to maintain simple balance essentially reset my life to infancy at 22 years old,” and “When I had my opportunity to test my resolve, I knew complaining was not an option.”
Scott gives special recognition to his mentor, Dr. Scott Sherman, or “Dr. Bubba” as he is known in the classroom, for challenging Scott to break barriers, as well as his own preconceived notions of what “wheelchair bound” meant. Scott notes, “All it takes is one good mentor to change a life forever.” Scott remembers spending countless hours in Dr. Bubba’s office, discussing the adversities living with a disability creates and also the new opportunities for success now afforded him. He credits Dr. Bubba with helping him develop a forward thinking mentality and motivating him to pursue higher education.
Despite finding academic and personal success as he transitioned into his adulthood with a disability, Scott faced others’ misperceptions about his abilities. He went on numerous interviews after obtaining his MBA, but was not getting any job offers. He suspected it was due to his disability. And, in one instance, a company explicitly said it was so. Realizing that he was his own best advocate, Scott filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and settled with the company. “People are not always able to overcome their own ignorance.”
Scott’s frustration with both blatant and subtle discrimination and experiencing firsthand the plethora of ADA violations led to his decision to go to law school. “People with disabilities are often overlooked and undervalued in the community and those who need their rights defended typically lack the voice and knowledge to self-advocate in a meaningful way. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to attend law school to better learn how to advocate, educate, and promote disability awareness issues. Scott encourages more lawyers actively advocate for disability rights. His passion for disability rights and civil liberties litigation is fueled by his personal story, which he hopes will inspire others to dream, persevere, and succeed.