“With a Degree Now in Hand, I Have a Lot of Different Options”

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Carlos Quiles
Manchester, Conn. – (May 28, 2010) . . . An outstanding basketball player and track and field performer, Carlos Quiles, 29, of South Meriden, knows that success requires hard work and perseverance. That’s why he feels so good about his latest achievement – earning an associatedegree at Manchester Community College.

“I’m very proud,” said Carlos, who was among 737 students to graduate during MCC’s 46th annual commencement ceremony on May 27. “This is definitely a big accomplishment.” Carlos has been in a wheelchair since he was two years old – having lost the use of his legs after a risky operation to remove a spinal cord tumor.

He now is enthused about helping others impaired by illness or injury, having completed MCC’s rigorous occupational therapy assistant program and passed a national certification test.

Carlos is “a man with a ‘can do’ approach to life,” according to Maggie Moriarty, an associate professor in the health careers program who, along with two colleagues, nominated Quiles for recognition as one of MCC’s outstanding students. “He will surely continue to share the same with everyone he encounters.”

Carlos was raised in New Britain and was always interested in sports. He started competing in track at age eight, using a special racing chair in events from 100 to 1,500 meters. He also played wheelchair basketball, and earned a reputation for excellence in both sports. “I was able to get around pretty well,” he said, adding that he also served as the manager of the high school wrestling team.

After graduating high school in 1999, Carlos spent a year at the University of Illinois – a school renowned in the adapted athletics world for its outstanding facilities and traditions. He then transferred to Central Connecticut State University, at the time thinking that computer programming or accounting might be career options.

Sports, though, remained his passion. In 2002, Carlos competed in the International Paralympics world championships in Lille, France. “That was a highlight,” Carlos said, noting that although he did not earn a medal in any of his events, it was a thrill “because you were racing for your country.”

Carlos also is a longstanding member of the CT Spokebenders wheelchair basketball team. In fact, last April he traveled to Denver and helped the Spokebenders finish seventh among 28 teams at a national tournament. It was sports that led Carlos to decide what to do professionally. While at CCSU, he got talking to an occupational therapist who mentioned that she had attended MCC. Carlos was intrigued, made some inquiries, and decided to try MCC himself.

He started at MCC in 2005 and has had his education interrupted a few times because of significant setbacks – notably a lengthy hospitalization and treatment delay to treat an abdominal abscess. As Moriarty and her colleagues wrote, the setbacks “might have deterred another student, but Carlos remained steadfast in his desire to attain his degree.”

On Thursday, his efforts paid off.

Carlos said he knows that his personal struggles have given him valuable insights that will help as he embarks on a career as an occupational therapist. For example, he has many close friends who also are in wheelchairs, and they talk about their circumstances and about what they miss out on by not being able to walk. “I really don’t know the difference, compared to someone who had an accident when they were 16,” Carlos said. “We always argue about which one is worse.”

He also says he tries to stay positive. “There are days you get kind of down, but I don’t have any bitterness,” he said. Instead, with a degree now in hand, “I have a lot of different options.”

Article written by Jim Farrell

News Item Posted On: May 28, 2010
For Additional Information Contact: Endia DeCordova-Murphy at (860) 512-2914