DONTE MICKENS

Throughout my life, I have always viewed albinism as a net blessing with the occasional burden. Albinism presented me with an opportunity to leverage the many challenges such as low vision, stares and ignorant comments and use them all as fuel in my quest to do well and help others where I can.  I did my best to never dwell on those things beyond my control, such my complexion, making sure that those which were within my control were on point.   For instance, there’s no reason why low vision had to equal low grades.  As motivation, I’d often take mental stock of what I was able to do despite my situation as opposed to what I might not have been able to do because of my situation.

 

Last fall I received a gubernatorial appointment from former FL Governor Charlie Crist to serve a four year terms on the FL Rehabilitation Council for the Blind as a client advocate.  The Council oversees the state agency responsible for rehab services within the state.  I would encourage anyone who qualifies for vision and rehabilitation services in their respective state to take full advantage of what’s available if it will help them get where you want to be.  With hard work and the support of the FL Division of Blind Services, I was blessed to graduate from Florida State with Bachelor of Science degrees in Finance and Risk Management with a minor in African American Studies.  In addition, I have completed several industry certifications and am currently slated to graduate with a Masters in Management degree during the spring of 2012.  What may have appeared to some as a negative situation or circumstance, ended up paving the way towards an education that many of my childhood friends continue to pursue.

 

Being legally blind, I was also exposed to the wonderful sport of goalball at an early age.  Goalball is a highly competitive team sport designed for those with a visual impairment.  Goalball is also played on the elite level as part of the Paralympic Games.  I have had the privilege of representing the U.S. in two Paralympic Games, Athens and Beijing, winning a bronze medal in 2004 and coming just short of the medal stand in 2008.  Traveling to many countries around the world, I’ve had the chance to play with and against the world’s best competitors.  Most are unaware that half of the U.S. national team at one point, had albinism.  Played indoors, this is a great sport for those seeking athletic opportunities without the wonderful aroma of Bullfrog or Banana boat.