I am a visually-impaired, middle-aged single mother of six, with three of my own plus three non-birth children. I live in the city of Milwaukee and always believed my first obligation was to my children, so this led me to become a stay-at-home mother for many years. As my children became older and capable of providing for themselves, I decided it was time for me to make a better future for myself and my family. So I decided to return to school.
Education has always been very important to me, and I try to encourage my children and others to continue their education, just as I’m trying to do. I have always said that if you want to succeed, then education is the key to a better future. I began my education taking certification courses in medical transcription. After receiving my certificate, I began a job search, but I couldn’t find a position that met my expectations.
Therefore, I decided to go back to school to work with children as I have always enjoyed being around children and helping them out when no one else felt the need to. This is what inspired me to become a teacher
Even though I was attending classes, I found that school alone was not enough for me to succeed in life. At this point, I felt it was time for me to find a job, so I started working for Beyond Vision, formerly known as Wiscraft. Beyond Vision gave me a chance to show my children that, not only can I go to school, but I can
work as well. I also had the chance to prove to myself, to show that I can be productive in society and do quality work all while providing for my kids. I hope that this will be an inspiration to children and other visually-impaired people to want to do the same.
I began achieving my goals by attending Milwaukee Area Technical College where I received my Associate of Arts degree. Then, I thought it would be in my best interest to continue at Cardinal Stritch University for a bachelor’s degree in education so I can eventually teach kids with special needs. I hope to finish at Stritch within two years so that I can obtain a job with Milwaukee Public Schools and help the inner-city children whom people seem to think don’t have any future goals for themselves.
Although I am a person with special needs, I have not let this discourage me at all. I have been told many times in the past what I shouldn’t do and, most of all, what I couldn’t do because of my disability. Yet, I have ignored what others have said and showed them what a person with a disability can do instead of what we can’t
Many have said that I wouldn’t be able to achieve a degree in education because the work would be too complicated for me to handle. But, with my can-do attitude, I have earned my associate degree and now I feel that there is nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it. My can-do attitude and my many encounters with people who hold misconceptions about my capabilities are what inspire me to work harder to prove what I can do. And if I can teach children with disabilities or impairments to understand that life’s challenges may take a little extra work and be a little harder for them than for those without a disability, then I can encourage children to have the same attitude that I have to succeed in life. After all, your disability should not be what holds you back; it should be what makes you want to stride high and reach for your greatest goals.
Frenchie Randolph is on track to earn a dual certification in education and special education from Stritch. In 2012, she received the Employee of the Year award from Beyond Vision, an organization that provides opportunities for sustainable employment for people who are visually impaired. Randolph works in their assembly and packaging area.
Link to video interviews of Frenchie created by Beyond Vision, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and WTMJ-TV Channel 4 (Milwaukee's NBC affiliate). Also, read stories about her life published in the Beyond Vision newsletter and in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (written by Stritch alumnus James Causey, '02).