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Ochs Setting Example For All Students

[Profile of Strong College Junior India Ochs]

By Kristen Lidbom, Contributing Writer

The Carolinian, 6 December 1994

Known to students through any of her numerous activities here on campus, India Ochs has made an indelible mark on UNCG.

A second semester junior, India is currently serving as Delegation Chairperson of the North Carolina Student Legislature (NCSL) and Current Concerns Chair of Student Government, as well as Public Relations Chair of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Society.

India has also formed a Disabled Student Awareness Foundation that attempts to enlighten others about disabilities.

Last year, she received the coveted award of Best Speaker in the House of Representatives for NCSL.

What is so tremendously remarkable about her accomplishments is that she has overcome a neurological speech disorder that she has had since birth.

Questions started filling my mind from the minute I met India in the Atrium. What if she wanted to order something from Pizza Hut or Chick-Fil-A? How would she do that? Sure, I know sign language, but do those behind the counter?

So I asked.

Many fingerspelled words later, I was able to piece together that what most of us take for granted, the gift of vocal expression, was an extremely difficult thing to live without.

Rather than stepping up to the register and telling the worker what she wants, she would have to either point and hope that the server would guess the right item, write what she wanted down on paper, or simply take potluck.

As India told me all of her accomplishments, I sat amazed at what all she had done.

India has never seemed to think that her disability would hinder her so far that she could not do what she wanted to.

Finally, my curiosity could be contained no longer. I asked the dreaded question.

“India, what is the biggest problem that you face on campus?”

With humor, she replied, “Communication!”

© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2021