An exceptional 26-year-old man, Loik Charles has emerged as the first-ever blind person to earn a Bachelor’s degree from the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) in San Antonio Texas, United States.
Loik Charles who hailed from Dominica suffered challenges while he was young, leading him to become visually impaired. In his narration, he explained that he was born premature with cataracts and was given too much oxygen by doctors.
“So the combination of these two messed up the membranes behind my eyes. I was told, I was not born blind.” he explained to Dominica News.
Loik Charles forged ahead in life, completing his high school education with an exceptional grade despite being differently-abled. He proceeded to the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Marketing.
“I feel quite elated and ecstatic. It’s something that I have worked hard towards and I am thankful that God has blessed me to be able to see that day where I was able to cross the finish line of this chapter in my life,” he said.
Loik Charles explained that he is like anyone else as his challenges do not make him less capable. “I am like everybody else, you know. The only thing is I cannot see like everybody else, but it is not really a big deal,” he said.
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Charles explained that he was able to learn both in high school and university with the aid of technology. “I went to school with my laptop which has a special software on it called Jaws,” he narrated.
“So as I type the computer reads back to me what I type letter for letter and then word for word. In school while the teacher was writing on the board, they themselves would dictate what they were writing or another student would be sitting next to me making the notes and giving me the notes at the same time,” he added.
He thanked God for bringing him far to the extent of attaining a Bachelor’s degree despite all the challenges he faced. “God always came through somehow and he was always on time,” he said.
Charles looks forward to apply what he learned to impact the youths in his community. “I would love to apply what I have learned to our society and teach and impact the youths in the areas of community leading skills and just all around being a mentor, a counsellor, guiding them in terms of academics and in the other areas. I can’t do much; I will find ample resources to aid them,” he said.
He noted that there is a need for public and private sector to create more employment opportunities for people living with disabilities.
He advised anyone with disabilities that God chose them for a reason. “God put every one of us here for a reason. Don’t allow anyone to permeate your mind and let you think otherwise in regard to who you are and what your purpose is and never limit your potential,” he advised.
Charles achievement makes him the first-ever blind graduate of the university and he also received numerous awards from the National Youth Council (NYCD), the Ministry of Education and the Bureau of Gender Affairs and more.
He plans to pursue a master’s degree in the nearest future.