My Road to Commencement: Nick Spohn

Nick Spohn in commencement regalia with Lion Shrine at Penn State Harrisburg

Nick Spohn

Credit: Nick Spohn

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Nick Spohn, who will graduate at the spring 2024 commencement ceremony at Penn State Harrisburg with a bachelor of science degree in project and supply chain management, said that due to his blindness, his college experience was challenging, but that didn’t stop him from achieving his academic goals.

Read about Spohn's journey to commencement below.

"After my freshman year, I decided to change my major from mechanical engineering to project and supply chain management. The shortages we had during the pandemic inspired me to potentially help organizations and consumers make sure they have the things they need. I was also interested in project management because I liked the idea of possibly being a project manager in the IT field.

"My college experience was challenging academically due to my blindness. However, this did not stop me from graduating."

Spohn said he had difficultly receiving course materials and textbooks in an accessible format in a timely manner during his first couple of years at Penn State Harrisburg, a challenge that caused him to fall behind in his classes. His experiences led him to become an advocate for all students with disabilities.  

"My discussions with Student Disability Resources and the Penn State Harrisburg administration led to more support for all students with disabilities. During my sophomore year, Penn State Harrisburg increased the number of staff at Student Disability Resources from one full-time employee to two full-time employees.

"When I came into college, I had only been blind for a few years. It took time for me and Penn State Harrisburg to learn from each other, but we worked together to achieve a successful outcome.

"The second triumph inspired by my challenging circumstances was the founding of Accessibility Club. The club was founded in fall 2022 to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for people of all abilities, spread awareness about the disability community, and advocate for a more accessible campus.

"I participated in the cross-country and track and field teams at Penn State Harrisburg. It gave me a social outlet to manage the stresses and challenges of college.

"I have also been an admissions representative/tour guide from January 2022 to the end of this semester. This job has allowed me to help others with navigating the process of choosing a college.

"I knew it was going to be challenging to pursue my ultimate goal to graduate. I wanted my story to be a beacon of hope for those who question whether the pursuit of a college degree is even possible. I have persevered to meet my ultimate goal by taking what I have and running with it.  

"Penn State Harrisburg has been part of my journey in various ways. Each and every professor I have had over my four years has contributed to my success. I cannot thank them enough. The Student Disability Resources Office has also worked passionately to ensure that I am successful in and out of the classroom. Finally, I am also grateful for the employment opportunity I have had at the Admissions Office.

"I have recently been working as an intern at the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience (CODE PA) where I help test the accessibility of websites that the state develops. I hope to continue this work."