This weekend, a student’s will to help San Diego State alumna and volunteer professor’s assistant Rita Roberson is taking place in the form of a fundraiser which will help purchase much-needed equipment for Roberson, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
Roberson assists one of the most popular general studies classes at SDSU; the 420 class taught by professor Mendy McClure.
One of McClure’s students is Chris Maker, a senior studying sociology.
Each semester the class has a community service project where students choose what they work on. When Maker heard Roberson was having difficulty with her insurance company to buy a much-needed lift that helps her get in and out of bed and also into exercise equipment, he jumped to it.
“I asked professor McClure if I could organize a fundraiser to help Rita as my community service component and she said yes,” Maker said.
Because the class is a general studies course, a wide variety of students enroll and have conversations revolving around disabilities on and off campus, helping students interact with one another.
The class is more than lectures: it has a hands-on approach. McClure agreed to teach the class only if Roberson could assist her.
“She’s an incredible person and a great inspiration,” Maker said. “She has so much patience and definitely knows what she’s talking about. She and professor McClure make the best team.”
McClure has been teaching for the special education department at SDSU since 1993. In 1998, she was asked to teach the 420 class.
“This class is designed to bring disability awareness to the campus,” McClure said.
Roberson graduated from SDSU in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation management. She has been instrumental in bringing awareness to disability issues on campus and has also worked at the Challenge Center for more than 10 years. The center provides physical therapy for children, adults and seniors with severe disabilities.
Those who know Roberson speak of her incredible fortitude and colorful disposition despite suffering from severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
“Many people have family members or know someone with disabilities and Rita is a strong resource for the class,” McClure said. “She has a lot of connections in the community and participates in various services and organizations; she is definitely my link to the community.”
With help from SDSU’s Student Veteran Organization, Maker has put together the fundraiser event to help Roberson continue her work on campus. Maker has put in his own money to fund the event, but said the project is worth it.
“Rita is, above all else, a fellow Aztec,” Maker said. “The lift Rita needs costs about $2,500, so anything we can do to help her out is worth it.”
The fundraiser will take place at the SVO house on Fraternity Row this Friday at 8 p.m.