Blind graduate says Lycoming was right choice
By Dana Borick Brigandi
When Elizabeth Jane Heap ’71 decided to attend Lycoming College in the
late 1960s, she knew there would be challenges. As the first blind student at
the college, Heap said
she was given an extra
study room in Rich
Hall with a table for
her braille books and
blind, the books are a
lot bigger,” Heap said.
“What’s normally one
volume in the Bible is
four volumes for me.
Matthew and Mark are
in one braille volume,
for instance; Luke and
John are in another. The
New Testament is four
braille volumes. And I
had to bring my Bible since I was taking religion courses.”
Heap said that she was given her book list earlier than the other students so
she could secure books in braille or on tape. “This was before computers, so an
organization known as Recording
for the Blind and Dyslexic would put books
“The professors were a blessing at Lycoming,” Heap said. “Many took time
with me individually.”
She had readers for many of her classes. Sometimes she was given oral
exams and other times the professors would read her the questions and she
would type out the answers on her typewriter.
Heap joked that computers would have made note-taking much easier, as she
had to use a slate and stylus for writing braille notes, along with a tape recorder.
She also had a mobility instructor from New Jersey come show her how to get
around the campus.
“I made my first friends the morning after I got there,” Heap said. “My
readers also became my close friends.”
Heap prefers to go by her childhood nickname Bojane, which is what her
friends and family call her.
“I remember my first day of class at Lycoming, I had perspectives on religion
with Dr. [O. Thompson] Rhodes, and we all got to class, all of us freshmen, all
of us scared, and he said, ‘I want everybody to tell me their nicknames.’ Right
then and there, I knew I had a friend. He was my friend the whole time I was at
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English, Heap became employed
at IBM, where she worked for 18 ½ years. When IBM relocated, she became a
medical transcriptionist for 12 years before getting her current position with the
Bergen County Department of Human Services, Division of Senior Services.
“Graduation from Lycoming was a sad and happy event – happy because I
was the first blind person to do it, sad because I left a lot of good friends behind
with whom I would like to reestablish contact.”
Some of her favorite activities at Lycoming were attending chapel services
and theatre productions. She was thankful that Bob Porter in the theatre
department gave her a chance to be in a play.
“As for my experiences, Lycoming made me who I am today, blind or
sighted it would have helped me,” she said. “But the people, that was the great
part. The people were phenomenal. I especially loved some of my professors.”
books and choral music and lives in
Albuquerque, N.M., with his wife of 40
years, Kathy Jackson.
Wanda (Root) Ross
is manager of global executive talent
acquisition at Polycom, a leader in
unified communications. She also was
elected as secretary of the board of the
Far West Ski
ski clubs in 13
as rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
in Mystic, Conn. He now is the part-time
priest-in-charge at St. John’s Episcopal
Church in East Hartford, Conn. Mark
was the rector of Christ Episcopal
Church in Williamsport from 1986-93.
Jon “Craig” Koons
writing and producing the Internet
, starring Harry
Lennix, which is showing onwww.blackamericantv.com
Linda (Burton) Kochanov
William Miller ’69 and Kathy Jackson
LYCOMING COLLEGE 2013 SUMMER MAGAZINE
Wanda (Root) Ross ’69
Elizabeth “Bojane” Heap ’71 with James Hogan