Being an exceptional student is not solely defined as making the dean’s list or excelling in extra-curricular activities. Inspiration and perseverance are major factors in one’s success, both in school and in life.
Terrae O’Neal is a shinning example of these characteristics. Twenty-two year-old O’Neal, a student at Yuba College for two years, has been dealing with cerebral palsy all his life.
And on January 19, 2002, he was chosen to carry the torch in Sacramento for the Winter Olympics.
He was first nominated to bear the torch by Margaret Smith, a fellow classmate in the Special Education Program. Margaret, inspired by O’Neal, suggested her idea to their teacher, Diane Randolph.
Randolph contacted O’Neil’s parents who nominated him online. Shortly thereafter, he was selected to take part in the prestigious honor.When asked about his experience, he was thankful to have had the opportunity to take part in such a positive event. He said at first he was a little nervous because of all the people and cameras surrounding him but feels better about himself for having participated.
“Terrae had inspired Margaret so much, she really thought he would be perfect, and so did I,” said Randolph. “He is such a wonderful, funny, intuitive and intelligent person who understands he has certain limitations, but will never let that stop him from achieving his goals.” “He faces each obstacle with confidence and a great will to succeed,” Randolph continued. O’Neal’s story illustrates that being exceptional isn’t defined only by something a person does, but also by who a person is.O’Neal has lived in the Yuba Sutter area for five years and has had the opportunity to travel through most of the Western United States with his military family.
He has excelled in all his classes and will graduate from the Yuba Sutter Special Education Program in the spring.
He has no definite plans as of yet, but is pondering whether to continue his education or go on to job training. O’Neal currently works for the One Stop program on campus, helping deliver mail.