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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

recorders.

“When you’re

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

on tape.

“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

Lycoming.”

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

(sociology)

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

Association,

which represents

ski clubs in 13

Western states.

The

Rev.

Mark Santucci

(philosophy)

recently retired

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.

1970

Susan Stewart

susancstewart@hotmail.com

1971

Jon “Craig” Koons

570-587-3928

koons71_scribe@yahoo.com

Art Washington

(sociology) is

writing and producing the Internet

series

Always Night

, starring Harry

Lennix, which is showing on

www.blackamericantv.com

.

1972

Linda (Burton) Kochanov

203-744-0393

Kuchi3@aol.com

William Miller ’69 and Kathy Jackson

32

LYCOMING COLLEGE 2013 SUMMER MAGAZINE

Wanda (Root) Ross ’69

Elizabeth “Bojane” Heap ’71 with James Hogan