Most University of Georgia students have obstacles they overcome during college. While Ada Spratlin has done a masterful job overcoming the mental obstacles most students face, it’s the physical obstacles, like hills, that offer the biggest challenge.
Those challenges have helped shape Spratlin, a fourth-year student studying journalism, but they have not defined her. Instead, she has taken her unique set of abilities and transferred them into a wheelhouse of skills focused on helping others through traumatic times in their lives.
“There are kids here that far outstretch my own,” Spratlin said. “To me, I don’t have a disability. I just have limb differences and different abilities.”
Those limb differences include the fact that Ada is missing a right arm and a right leg as the result of a train accident when she was six-years-old. At the time, she was living with her grandmother in Ethiopia. Because her grandmother was in poor health and medical care was more difficult in Ethiopia, Ada came to the United States when she was seven for medical care, and through a series of events, was adopted by the family who was hosting her.
“The greatest gift my grandmother gave me was putting me up for adoption,” Spratlin recalled, opening the way for Paige and Jeff Spratlin to welcome Ada into their family that includes another daughter and two sons. “I can never thank my parents enough,” Spratlin says, falling short of becoming emotional.
Spratlin’s story is special and because she was the subject of several interviews when she was younger, journalism piqued her interest and led her to it as a field of study.
“I have an ability to communicate well with others and I want to be able to use that ability in the biggest way possible,” Spratlin says.
Culminating her studies, was taking the Newsource course, a semester-long experiential learning class where students are tasked with putting together a 30-minute news broadcast two times a week. It is a course that brings fear and trepidation to most students because of its demands and expectations. Dodie Cantrell-Bickley, a lecturer and co-producer of Newsource, taught Spratlin and got to know her well.
“Ada defines the word tenacity, stick-to-it-tiveness, and frankly, attitude,” Cantrell-Bickley, said. “You can’t tell her ‘no’ if she is coming after you for an interview because she is so pleasant, which is a great gift.”
It’s Spratlin’s attitude that drives her to conquer those hills and most defines her. When Spratlin is asked what she wants others to know about her, she is short and concise: “Ada can take anything. Give her a task, she will do it and can do so much more.”
To those who know Spratlin, there is no doubt this is true.
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