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A Life Rebuilt: Chris Rice’s success through accessibility at NSCC

Photo of Chris Rice on a deck by the water.

A life-changing accident

Chris Rice, a Business Administration student at NSCC’s eCampus, is an inspiring example of resilience and determination highlighting why support for students with disabilities is essential in post-secondary education. In 2012, Chris dove into a swimming pool and broke his neck; this accident left him paralyzed from the chest down at 19 years old, requiring the use of expensive medical equipment for his daily life. Despite these challenges, Chris has not only rebuilt his life but is also focused on empowering others with disabilities.

In the aftermath of his accident, Chris faced an overwhelming financial burden. The costs of necessary medical equipment were staggering. Paying $12,000 for his wheelchair and $6,000 for a shower chair are just two examples of expensive equipment purchases. He also moved back to Nova Scotia in 2019 and built an accessible house in Bridgetown.

Discovering new passions

While managing the financial costs from his injury has become a constant in Chris’s life, it sparked a new passion for financial literacy, leading him to NSCC's Business Administration program, specializing in accounting. “Topics such as compound interest, investments, cash flow management, and budgets are some of my favourite things to study,” says Chris. “Helping a business optimize its financial position and grow through smart budgeting is very attractive to me.”

With managing his finances, Chris runs a tight budget to afford his medical expenses. Having access to donor-funded student awards is a game-changer for him. When he received the Ron Levy Scholarship for Students with Disabilities, created by CHAD Transit to assist students with mobility challenges, he felt an immense sense of relief. "It immediately felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders," Chris recalls. The financial support allowed him to focus more on his studies, alleviating the constant pressure of managing his medical expenses while studying. “Knowing that part of my tuition was being generously covered by the scholarship instantly gave me a boost of morale and energy, helping to push me through the winter semester,” says Chris.

Supporting students with disabilities at NSCC

As a student with a disability at NSCC, Chris says the College provides him with the support he needs for accessibility and education, with his supportive instructors and staff consistently offering him advice and encouragement to navigate his education. “NSCC has strong accessibility accommodations and a dedicated team that works with students to ensure their education is accommodating and adaptive,” says Chris. “My accessibility advisors have been there every step of the way, ready to answer questions and resolve any challenge I am facing.”

A future of improving accessibility in Nova Scotia

Looking to the future, Chris plans to further his education and possibly become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) through NSCC's 2+2 pathway program. He is also passionate about improving accessibility in Nova Scotia's infrastructure. Chris envisions establishing a consulting and design company that would conduct accessibility audits for local businesses, provide modification options, and manage the implementation process. This initiative aims to make buildings more accessible without imposing undue financial strain on business owners. Profits from this venture would be donated to fund medical equipment for those in need, reinforcing Chris’s commitment to giving back to the community.

“After years of struggling with the inaccessibility of Nova Scotia and the infrastructure it contains, I decided that there might be something I could do to help the situation,” says Chris. “While having the best intentions, many business owners do not know what they should do to make their buildings more welcoming.”

Chris Rice standing and dancing with his best friend on her wedding day.
Chris' proudest moment of his life, the 5th anniversary of his accident and best friend's wedding day, where he was able to stand and dance with her.

Back to chasing dreams

Chris's journey is a story of resiliency and success with the support of financial aid and accessibility accommodations for students with disabilities. To the donors of awards like the Ron Levy Scholarship for Students with Disabilities, Chris expresses profound gratitude. "It is impossible to overstate how much finances impact one’s ability to study and start a career," he says. “I spent all of my 20s enduring physiotherapy and trying to fight back from a spinal cord injury. Now that I’m ready to pursue a career and push forward professionally, donors and NSCC allow me to chase my dreams.”

Make a difference today

Learn more about ways to give to the NSCC Foundation, or contact us to discuss how you can support students with disabilities at NSCC:

By phone (toll-free): 1-866-745-7919 | Fax: (902) 491-4828

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