Graduate student takes charge of life |

Graduate student takes charge of life

by Ron Walker

Will Carrasco was in the third grade at Smith Valley K-12 school when Orllyene and I met him. I gave “Kiddersize,” sessions (a form of dance). Will was in a wheelchair.

One day we got deep into the music and let the music take control. We were inspired. At the end, while the other kids huffed and puffed, Will sat stoically in his wheel-chair, his fingers ready to bring the chair into action. A drop of sweat on his brow.

“I am going to report you to the Principal.” Will’s droll sense of humor stopped me in my tracks. Will put forth as much effort as any other 8-year-old in the class. He doesn’t consider himself limited nor consider himself isolated. Orllyene noticed that when Will was on the playground if any of the kids saw his head starting to dip forward, or his wheelchair got hung up, the kids would hurry to him and see that all was made right.

By whim or fate, Liz, Will’s mom is now Orllyene and my Kinder Home Care nurse. Liz is a gem as a human being and of course excels as a nurse. From the moment Orllyene met Will, she said she wanted to meet his mother and now she had.

“One day Will came to me and said ‘Everyone says that you can do anything you set your mind to, Mom, I don’t think that is quite true.’” Liz says she told him, he was right and Will henceforth let life reveal itself to him and tell him what he should do. Will is now 26 years old, and he has certainly found the right road for himself.

A dinner for Will, Liz, Orllyene and me is arranged during one of Liz’s visits. Liz and Will will bring dinners from the Heyday to our home. When they arrive, Will is dressed in a snazzy dress shirt, with tie and tie (clasp correctly located between the 3rd and 4th button). Will lowers himself from their van in his 300-pound electronically controlled wheelchair. Liz wrestles two parallel ramps in place that will permit Will to negotiate the steps to our front door. All goes like clockwork and as soon as Will sees Orllyene’s beautifully designed living room he exclaims, “this is beautiful, it’s absolutely beautiful.” That’s Will. Will is unrepentantly honest and spontaneous and has no time for verbal prattle.

During dinner I learn Will has a Bachelor of Science Information Systems degree, a Master of Science Data analytics degree and is working on a Master/Phd., Psychology. He is also Graduate Student Association President (with a $500,000 annual budget), and is Vice Chair of the Nevada Student Alliance, which is composed of all Nevada’s University Presidents. He has a new office waiting for him when the University of Nevada Reno opens on July 6.

Will has taken John Wayne’s motto for his own: “Courage is when you are scared to death and you saddle up anyway.” I’d say Will is well saddled up.

Ron Walker can be reached at