At the beginning of November, I heard of the passing of a good friend of mine, Drew. He wrote the forward for my memoir, My Disability Doesn’t Define Me. Drew was a very special person and I am glad that I had a chance to get to know him and call him a friend.

Drew was the president of Hudson Valley Community College for 13 years, retiring in June 2018. My graduating class, the class of 2018, was the final graduating class under his leadership.

A couple of days before the ceremony, I was corresponding with the Executive Director of Communications and Marketing and was told I was going to be mentioned in Drew’s remarks. I was elated and grateful.

Drew and I had a special relationship. I first met him in the fall of 2015, my first semester at the college. In all of my interactions with him, he had a smile. This was no exception. When I rolled up to his door in my wheelchair and knocked, Drew stood up and started to walk over in my direction. He took out a chair from the conference table in his office and invited me to come in and sit.

We had a lovely first conversation getting to know each other. It wasn’t until a few semesters later, though, that we really sat down to get to know one another as I interviewed him for one of my final classes of my college career.

The class was Organizational Leadership, I was tasked with writing a paper on someone we thought was a leader. With my mind jumping to a leader of an educational institution, I immediately thought of Drew.

In our conversation, among other things, he spoke of an English teacher who pushed him to do his best.

I had a teacher like that, too: My ninth grade English teacher. He wrote on my first paper in the class that my writing was a double-edged sword; that he would be expecting more from me as the year went on.

In that way, Drew and I were similar: We both had one person who drove us to do better in our educational careers (and I don’t think it was a coincidence that it was an English teacher, considering Drew went on to get his doctorate in Education and I went on to be an author and run a publishing company).

Thank you, Drew, for your 13 years of dedicated service to the college. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms and helping me along the way when I needed your support. You will be greatly missed.

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