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September 2, 1999

 Grad Wins Ms. Wheelchair Crown

By Laura Rompf



Dawn Parkot, a 1995 alumna of the University of Notre Dame and a current graduate student has been named Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey 1999.


"I'm extremely excited and gratified being crowned Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey," said Parkot.


Parkot, diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, is also legally blind and uses a special device to help her relay her words.


"Winning the pageant] serves to prove that someone who has a severe speech disability can still be a spokesperson and an activist for the disabled community," Parkot said.


The Ms. Wheelchair program seeks to find the most accomplished and articulate spokesperson, a person who can break down barriers and increase awareness for millions of individuals with disabilities.


Parkot is currently trying to accomplish this goal at Notre Dame as she urges every student to interact with the disabled.

"Be the same to a disabled person as you would be to anyone else," Parkot said.

Candidates in the competition are judged on their academic, vocational and personal accomplishments, their communication skills and their ability to serve as an advocate for persons with disabilities.


Parkot made the Dean's List as a Notre Dame student and graduated cum laude with a degree in mathematics. She was the first student with multiple disabilities at the University.


"Being an undergrad was great. The reception in the dorm was fantastic and excellent. I loved dorm life," Parkot said.


As an undergrad, Parkot's fellow students founded an award in her name to be given to future students who succeed in life despite unthinkable odds.


Parkot is currently a graduate student at Notre Dame pursuing a master’s degree in computer science and engineering.