• Marki Wilber, Vicki Mellino

Student Humphrey ‘urges’ more focus on issues pertaining to people with disabilities


Freshman Jeff Humphrey, majoring in sociology and anthropology, dreams of being a civil or disability advocate. While discussing people with disabilities and how they are often neglected in society, Humphrey said, “Something does need to be done.”

Although he believes education of the struggles facing minorities is important, he urges that there needs to be a stronger focus on the issues disabled people face on a daily basis.

Why?

For one simple fact: Jeff Humphrey is blind.

From Warren, 22-year-old Humphrey was born completely blind, and after years of surgeries, he now has extremely limited, partial use of one eye. He is able to vaguely make out shapes and colors; so, if a person approaches Humphrey he can make out an indistinct outline of the figure.

When Humphrey was about a month old it was discovered that he had Peter’s Anomaly. This condition is described by the National Library of Medicine’s website as an abnormal “development of the anterior segment... leading to incomplete separation of the cornea from the iris or the lens. As a result, the cornea is cloudy (opaque), which causes blurred vision.”

In addition to Peter’s Anomaly, Humphrey also deals with glaucoma. This affected his chances of wrestling at Olivet College. After a few weeks of participating in this sport, his doctor informed him that his glaucoma would worsen, causing him to lose any eyesight he had gained through surgeries.

Despite these struggles, Humphrey is an ambitious individual and adament toward achieving his short-term goal to complete his degree in anthropology and sociology at Olivet College within four years. He also plans on attending Cooley Law School in Lansing after graduation. Humphrey stressed that a law degree will enable him to pursue a career in either criminal law or as an archeological resource lawyer.

After earning his juris doctorate, Humphrey hinted that classmates may someday see his name on an election ballot, as one of his long-term goals includes running for Congress and landing a Senate position. “I want to change the world and make things better,” Humphrey said.

For now, Humphrey’s focus remains on the present, emphasizing the need for a large support group to bring awareness to the challenges that face the handicap and disabled community, beginning with changes that need to happen not just at Olivet College but in society in general.