Graduate Overcomes Challenges

Best friends Alex Watters and Ryan Lickteig packed up and moved out of their northwest Omaha apartment. They've known each other since they were freshmen at Morningside College in Sioux City.

Watters is heading to Washington, D.C. for a summer internship, but early on college wasn't a sure thing for Alex after trouble in Okoboji, Iowa in 2007. “My hat blew off into the water and knowing how far off on a dock I was I dove into the water and it ended up being 18-inches deep."

He broke his neck and was paralyzed, a quadriplegic. “I can't feel from my chest down and then I have half of my arms."

His college golf scholarship and his dream of becoming a golf pro and someday running a course were gone in a second. He's never picked up a club since and doesn't plan to. “That I can hold onto that memory and hold onto it of what it was and still be okay with that."

Which brings us to his graduation. Watters received his master's degree in conflict resolution from Creighton University Friday night.

Through high school, he was an able body. The wheelchair and newfound limitations are all he's known in college. His next challenge begins with the Department of Education. His working life begins like all the other chapters, by going forward.

“When I was an able body I was just looking out for me and after being hurt in the accident, it's like you realize how much you influence everyone else's life and how you have ability to change people's lives."

Watters will spend 10 weeks at the D.C. Internship Program For Students With Disabilities, working with dispute resolution. After that, he's not sure. His story serves as the keynote to his motivational speeches as well.


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