Student advocate receives scholarship

Jake Klein, Journalist

Chamomile Harrison was a recipient of a $2,000 scholarship from the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Harrison has been a recipient of this scholarship three times and continues to be an illustrious advocate in the community. She is also heavily involved in both Career and Leadership Development (CLD) and the LGBTQ+ community here on campus.

Harrison is now a Peer Educator Intern, and her goal is to share her own experiences with others and hopes it gives them confidence to live the life that they want to live, no matter the circumstances.

“Having a disability and being queer doesn’t define who we are as people,” Harrison said.

Harrison has struggled with challenges most of her life. Growing up in Watertown, WI, she faced much adversity. During her sophomore year of high school, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent treatment throughout the course of the year, resulting in going blind the following year. Due to this, Harrison was out of school for over a month. However, even after the missed time, she was able to overcome both the brain tumor and her vision loss. Harrison eventually regained her vision.

“I have 20/20 vision now, but my field vision is very little. So I have tunnel vision, which makes mobility somewhat difficult,” she said.

Even with these limitations, she didn’t want to be viewed any differently, nor given any “special” treatment just because of her vision impairment. When she returned to school, Harrison alluded that she was extremely grateful for how her high school and her teachers responded to the situation. She wasn’t given any unique treatment after she recovered, which is what she wanted. It was refreshing for her to be back in high school and going through her daily routine, which provided a level of comfort and confidence for her.

Before all of this transpired, Harrison didn’t know what she wanted to do once she graduated high school. Following recovery and her return to school, her path was clearer.

“After what I went through, it cemented that I know I want to continue to help raise awareness and stay involved even after my academics are finished,” she said.

Harrison is now a junior here at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, studying creative writing and psychology with a minor in social work. She feels that it’s in her destiny to be an advocate for the community long term, and has been weighing her options for the future in terms of what the best route for pursuing advocacy full time.

Harrison is hoping she can work with some non-profits or organizations once she finishes school, because all that matters to her is that she continues to make a difference and better the world as a whole.

Towards the end of the semester, Harrison will join others who were awarded the scholarship at a luncheon on May 16 in Madison. She as well as the other recipients will be commended and celebrated for their perseverance.