|Alex McArthur '09 Vies for Ms. Wheelchair America Title This Weekend
August 12, 2010
Contact: Bill Giduz
|At Commencement 2009, Alex McArthur was the designated student speaker at the Alumni Legacy Breakfast.
Davidson alumnus and current employee Alex McArthur '09 will compete this weekend (August 13-14) for the opportunity to represent the county's 54 million disabled citizens for the next year as Ms. Wheelchair America.
She and 27 other representatives of various states are at the five-day event in Grand Rapids, Mich., anticipating Saturday night's culmination when finalists will field questions from the audience and judges will crown the winner. During the week the competitors have conducted three interviews totaling 25 minutes with a five-person panel of judges, attended workshops about disability-related topics, and enjoyed social events.
Saturday evening's competition will be simulcast from 5:30 p.m. (ET) to 7:30 p.m., when finalists will answer questions from the audience and the winner will be crowned.
Tune in at http://www.allamericanrollmodels.com.
You must register on that site to gain access to the simulcast, and follow the links to AARM TV.
"No, I'm not nervous," McArthur stated. "I do want to do well and make my sponsors and state proud, but it's more important to simply develop some meaningful relationships and look it as a great experience. That sounds canned, but it's true."
Her travel and expenses are being supported by the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation, friends, and her parents, Margaret Herman '79 and John McArthur '77. Her parents will not be in attendance because they are spending the weekend helping Alex's sister Park '06, who is also in a wheelchair, move to New York City to begin a nine-month fellowship at the Whitney Museum of Art. Alex McArthur has been accompanied to Grand Rapids by her boyfriend, Owen Fitzpatrick '09.
The Ms. Wheelchair America judging is based on candidates' advocacy, achievement, communication and presentation. The national titleholder will spend a year making public appearances, conducting media interviews, promoting elimination of architectural and attitudinal barriers, informing the able-bodied public of the achievements of disabled people, and assisting with the establishment of other statewide Ms. Wheelchair programs.
McArthur qualified for the national competition through her selection in a field of three entrants in the Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina competition in late April.
Win or lose, McArthur says she's enjoying the rare and wonderful experience. "To see so many motivated, inspirational women doing good things across the country has been surprisingly inspiring," she said. "It's really meaningful to talk with them not just about disability, but our lives in general. That for me has been most rewarding part".
In second grade, Alex's sister Park was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and soon after Alex received the same diagnosis. She began her Davidson student career getting around campus on foot and in a golf cart. She has been in a wheelchair, which she nicknamed "Jazzy," since 2007, when she was studying abroad in Brighton, England.
McArthur's platform speech will stress the importance of employment opportunities for disabled people. "A lot of my material comes from my work at Davidson," said McArthur, who is in the middle of a two-year fellowship in the community service office working with the Chidsey Leadership Program.
She continued, "Employment empowers not only the disabled person, but it also can give a positive attitude to coworkers. When employees get to know and accept disabled people in their working lives, that's when lasting change will occur."
With orientation for new students beginning next Thursday, the pageant occurs at a busy time for college employees like McArthur. She's well aware of that, and will leave Grand Rapids with her boyfriend early on Sunday morning to drive straight through to Davidson. She intends to be at her desk first thing Monday morning. If she's lucky, she'll be dressed in a new crown!
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,800 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.