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Independence Training Program

From Poor Kid to Prof, Eddie Bell Challenges Students to Challenge Themselves

Five men and two women grouped for the photo
Dr. Eddie Bell with five staff members who hold the NOMC, and one who’s working on it: Wayne, Steve, David, Martin, Mo and Duncan.

Dr. Edward (Eddie” Bell, Director of the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University, visited the Colorado Center for the Blind on September 3. In Colorado to provide expert testimony to the Colorado Legislature’s Interim Study Committee on Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, he also presented an excellent philosophy class to our students, urging them to consider higher education as a means to economic independence.

Describing himself as a “ghetto kid” from Albuquerque who’d already dropped out of school by the time he became blind, he told students that he had no plans ever to go to college.

In fact, his decision to attend New Mexico’s training center Alamagordo was because “it sounded better than sitting on my brother’s couch.”

That was his ultimate reaction when a mentor suggested he start thinking about college, but his first thought was “No way.” I was a poor white kid. No one in his family, is neighborhood or school had gone to college or was going to college. Then he thought of that couch again.

His message really was simple. “Take advantage of the opportunity you have here at the Center. Challenge yourself every day, and challenge what you think about your potential after you leave training.”

He has a little street cred. Preferring to be known as Eddie to all of us, he earned his Ph.D. eleven years ago now and is a leading researcher and educator on blindness rehabilitation and education.

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