The ‘recycled teenager’ graduates

Published 3:39 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I made it.

Hello, fellow Longwood students. I know many of you don’t know me, so here is a brief biography. My name is Thomas “Tom” Lanigan. I am 64 years old and I have been a Farmville-area resident since moving from Richmond to Pamplin with my girlfriend, Betty, in 1974.

A few years after graduating from high school in 1970, I moved to Richmond, and early family obligations prevented my going to college after high school. I have had several work-related accidents that left me with broken ribs, a punctured left lung, a crushed left hand, a broken left leg, a broken collarbone, a broken right wrist and, with my right arm amputated at the shoulder, I lost my right eye. I have had surgery on both knees twice and I have chronic bursitis and degenerative arthritis in my left shoulder which severely limits the range of motion.

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I truly have enjoyed being the non-traditional student, 60-plus years old, with multiple physical disabilities, in class with 17-24-year-old students. I will treasure my time as a student for the rest of my life. Longwood’s Office of Disabilities Resources (ODR) is, in my opinion, a department that all other schools should follow. ODR Director Lindsay Farrar and her staff are people who Longwood and the Farmville community can be proud of. They go the extra step to make sure every student registered with ODR has all the necessary accommodations to ensure their success in the class.

The faculty members whom I have had courses with are a true credit to Longwood and the community. They are educators who truly care about their students and want to see them succeed in life. They encourage their students to use their office hours and make appointments as well. I owe three professors in my major my sincere thank you as they have made it a point to push me just as hard as they would any other student while making sure I was comfortable and had assistance while working on computers and handling expensive news broadcasting cameras, working with computer editing software and assignments where the use of both hands were necessary.

These professors are Jeff Halliday, Laura Farrell and Naomi Johnson. All took time to make sure ODR and information technology had formatted computers with me in attendance to make sure the clarity and visual effects were adjusted so my use of them would not cause undue strain on my left eye.

And my classmates? Hey, when you are tagged with nicknames like “the antique Lancer,” “Grandpa Lancer” and my favorite, “the recycled teenager,” what can I say? Longwood students live up to their being “in a class all their own” and are truly among the best in the nation and the world. I would like to mention some of my classmates that have stepped up to offer their time to make sure I had everything I needed to feel at home in the classroom and around campus.

During my time supporting the softball team, meeting different players and parents, somehow the talk of me going to Longwood and getting my communications and mass media degree kept coming up. I would be brain dead if I didn’t offer my most sincere thanks and appreciation to the Longwood softball team and coaching staff for their being the catalyst that started my becoming a Longwood student.

Tom Lanigan lives in Keysville. He is a mass media and communications major at Longwood, who will graduate this month. His email address is