Wheeling Jesuit University

Graduate Overcomes Learning Disability and Earns New Award, along with Degree

“Success is not to be measured so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.” - Booker T. Washington

WHEELING, WV, May 24, 2010 — Allison Park, Pa. resident Shawn Manning graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University this May with a degree in criminal justice and a minor in accounting. He also earned a brand-new academic award, named after him.

Manning is so inspiring to others that the Academic Resource Center decided to name a new award after him, the Manning Award for Academic Success. This new award will be given annually to a student with learning disabilities who overcomes obstacles and achieves academic and personal success at WJU. Manning was the inaugural recipient during commencement week this past May.

“Manning fulfilled the Wheeling Jesuit University mission of education for life, leadership and service through his service work, his academic persistence and his adherence to Jesuit values,” said Kathy Tagg, the director of the WJU Academic Resource Center and the director of Disability Services. “These accomplishments were extraordinary because Shawn was able to achieve this success by overcoming the obstacles of a learning disability."

Manning was told by his junior high school counselor that he would never get into college with a learning disability, Tagg said. "However, Shawn had a dream of a college education, and he was a hard working, independent, goal-oriented student who consistently strove for academic success. Shawn proved his counselor wrong and graduated with honors.”

When looking for a college, Manning did not look for one that he would be able to get through easily with his learning disability, according to Tagg. Instead, he chose WJU because he wanted a college that would challenge him and offer a great education.

“When I left home to go to Wheeling Jesuit University, I was determined to succeed and go above and beyond what everyone else could do. I ran into college full speed ahead, and no challenge was going to make me turn back. I was never afraid to work harder or longer than others or to seek resources that would help me to succeed,” Manning said.

Throughout his university career, he demonstrated commitment and tenacity in his academic endeavors. He did this from the moment he stepped foot on the WJU campus. He sought out and practiced successful strategies for learning through Disability Services at the Academic Resource Center.

“Shawn used any obstacles to learning as motivation to excel at his academic goals. He viewed challenges as opportunities to make himself a better person and give him more dimension as a human being,” Tagg said. He earned a place on the Dean’s List many times, was selected to be a member of the Criminal Justice Honor Society and was honored as the Outstanding Criminal Justice Senior, nominated for the National Jesuit Honor Society.

“Wheeling Jesuit University advertises that it will ‘help find the greatness in you.’ And Shawn says that WJU has helped to find the greatness in him, especially with the support of Disability Services. With the encouragement, academic assistance, and accommodations offered through this department, he is proof that students with learning disabilities have a chance to work hard, be successful, and fulfill their dream of a higher education as he has done,” Tagg said.

Manning believes in the words of Booker T. Washington: “Success is not to be measured so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

The son of Robert and Darlene Manning, also of Allison Park, he was also an Arrupe Scholar at WJU. As an Arrupe Scholar he cleaned homes and yards in Wheeling and served as a mentor in the after school program at Agape Baptist Church where he helped students with homework and was a positive role model for at risk students. He delivered groceries and meals to needy families through the Catholic Neighborhood Center and he participated in the West Virginia Mediation Program, where he mediated with juvenile offenders using conflict resolution to help young people make positive amends for their transgressions rather than face incarceration.

Tagg also said that Manning served as a mentor to other students on an individual basis and his diligent academic behavior positively influenced his struggling roommate who has now achieved a place on the Dean’s list. This roommate followed Shawn’s example about how to achieve academic success and his encouragement kept his roommate, who is now his lifelong friend, from dropping out of college.

“Shawn and his roommate graduated together May 15,” she added.

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