Student overcomes challenges to graduate from PSU Berks

Graduating from college is a big step for anyone. But for someone with a disability it's even bigger.  Diana Livingston, 20, will graduate from Penn State Berks this weekend with honors. And her journey wasn't an easy one.

Diana Livingston enjoyed going to the library at Penn State Berks and picking out books for the elementary school students she student taught at 16th and Haak Elementary School in Reading.

"These students may not come from the best situations," said Livingston. "It's up to you to be their teacher, yes, their teacher but their role model."

She was a role model to them in so many different ways.

"Numerous times, they've actually stood up for me when students outside of our classroom have said something, 'Hey, your teacher walks different,'" said Livingston. "I'm trying to make my feet go a little more outward, but it really doesn't happen."

Livingston has cerebral palsy.

"I've had 13 surgeries up to this point with one more in the foreseeable future, but it's not as major as the others," said Livingston.

And she knows kids can be cruel.

"Yes, I did well academically to allow me to leave high school early, but a large part of my desire to leave was due to getting bullied in school," she said. "I didn't want to be in that environment anymore."

She started taking college courses in 8th grade.

"Once I hit 10th grade, I figured why not try the SATs early and see how I do on those," said Livingston.

When she was 16, she enrolled at Penn State Berks. Her single mom has a medical condition and can't work. Yet, Diana said she is graduating debt free with a bachelor in science for elementary education.

"We have interviews lined up, and I'm very excited. And possibly after that I'm looking towards graduate school maybe Harvard or something along those lines," said Livingston, "I don't think the journey ends here. I'd like to think that I'm making a difference and breaking some stereotypes."

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