Article by Abbey Rigney | Owl Staff

Have you ever walked by someone in a wheelchair and suddenly become grateful for your working legs? It’s obvious that those with physical disabilities struggle, but have you ever considered those who suffer on the inside from an ailment that, to you, seems almost invisible? These underlying illnesses affect many students at HCC, making their everyday life an uphill battle.

Education major Noah Hutton was participating in a race when he felt what he described as, “a dagger stabbing into my stomach.” Later, Noah was diagnosed with Nutcracker syndrome, where a vein leading away from his kidney is pinched by an aorta and a blood vessel.

Noah’s passion in running rewarded him a $25,000 dollar scholarship to the University of Science in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, his disease worsened and Noah couldn’t run like he used to.

In turn, he lost his scholarship and moved back to Harford County to attend HCC. This discouraged Noah, but he remains optimistic, stating, “I’ve always told myself I’ll find a way to run because where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

After dietary changes and acupuncture, Noah has improved greatly. Attending UMBC in the spring, he hopes to embrace his passion once more and run competitively.

“Champions aren’t decided by how they handle success, but how they handle defeat,” Noah shares.

“The hardest thing for me,” says Brynne Willis, age 20, “is seeing my body continue to get progressively weaker and not being able to do anything about it…I have Spinal Muscular Atrophy type III.”

Brynne knows that within the next couple years she will need a wheelchair due to her disability. Still, she refuses to let this discourage her.

“I learned that the only way I’ll get through having this disability is to pick myself up, brush off the dirt, and keep on going,” shares Brynne.

“Champions aren’t decided by how they handle success, but how they handle defeat.”

Noah Hutton

She is now attending the University of Maryland and studying family science.

Brynne says, “I’m not alone in this life, and I have a God who loves me. Nothing, not even a disability, can strip that away from me.”

Are you someone struggling with school due to a disability? HCC has its own disability support service.

“Any student with documentation of a medical/physical, blind/low vision, deaf/hard of hearing, head injury/ traumatic brain injury, psychological, Attention Deficit Disorder, and/or specific learning disability is eligible to apply,” says Student Development Specialist Dawn Volkart.

For example, 20-year-old Jenna Taylor has severe to profound hearing loss, necessitating the use of a hearing aid. To assist her in classes, the Disability Support Services provided her with an FM system, which requires that her teachers wear a microphone while she wears a receiver, helping to eliminate background noise and ensure that the lecture is heard clearly. Being able to hear her teachers helped her to receive all A’s and B’s her first semester at HCC.

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “Count not what is lost but what is left.” Clearly students like Noah, Brynne, and Jenna aren’t counting their losses; they are counting their wins.

For those students who need support, you can make an appointment by going to DSS in the Student Center, calling 443-412-2402 or visiting

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