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A UTEP graduate journey through CASS

UTEP graduate and student Xavier Bates is earning his degree in multidisciplinary studies and will graduate this semester. Photo courtesy of Xavier Bates

As the clock ticks down towards commencement day, some graduates begin to reflect on the journey and support they received throughout their undergraduate years. Soon to be UTEP graduate Xavier Bates, a multidisciplinary studies major, considers his parents, professors, and UTEP CASS (Center for Accommodations and Support Services) as his biggest support system who helped him reach his special day, his college graduation.  

Born and raised in southern California, Bates and his family moved to El Paso, Texas when his father, a Major in the Army, was stationed in Fort Bliss in 2016. Although Bates now resides in Copperas Cove, Texas, he will always consider El Paso his second home. 

“The city of El Paso, in general, felt like I was growing up in Barstow, Calif, the inclusivity, no judgment, willing to help, so I just fell in love with that aspect, the culture, compassion, and sense of community,” Bates said. “I consider the city my second home.”   

When Bates enrolled at UTEP in 2016, he was a secondary education major with a concentration in social studies. However, after 2019, he switched his major when he could not do it online.  

Bates says he suffers from a disability called Spastic Cerebral Palsy, a developmental disorder which prevents the development of movement functions and makes tasks like walking difficult. Those with this condition may also deal with jerky movements and muscle and joint stiffness.   

Bates says he did not let this disorder get in the way of his academic success. 

Throughout his time at UTEP, he was able to meet new people, live on campus, and attend sporting events since his dream job as a child was to pursue broadcast journalism or sports commentating. Bates says he had the opportunity to build personal relationships with some of his professors like Dr. Charles Martin, Professor Carlos Ortega, and more.    

“These professors all made a huge impact on me during my college journey, from conversations during officer hours to conversations after class if I had questions and belief in my abilities,” Bates said. “Giving me confidence and teaching me life lessons that I still use today and special thanks to TAs (teaching assistants) they don’t get enough credit for the job they do.” 

Bates says navigating school from a distance was not an easy adjustment because he enjoyed the camaraderie of building friendships with his peers and professors. He credits Blackboard, GroupMe and CASS as the accessibility options that made college easier for him.   

CASS offers accommodation and support services for students to help them with their academic, graduation and career goals. Bates says he has been using this service for four years and thanks Corene Seymour, Hector Flores, and student workers at CASS for making his academic experience easier.   

“Any accommodations I needed they were able to accommodate,” Bates said. “Any questions I had about navigating the campus they were able to guide me, or if I needed to have a conversation or check in mentally, they were there for me. They also made sure my classes were ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible.”  

Bates says he was able to succeed in college and maintain a high GPA, and he was also nominated to become a 21st Century Scholar in 2018 thanks to CASS. 

“I think if UTEP didn’t have CASS, it would impact my education and my experiences at the university so having these services and resources at my disposal made my college experience easier,” Bates said. “It also taught me accountability and to always advocate for myself.” 

Bates hopes other students with disabilities can use this service and thinks CASS may help other students with their academic goals just like it helped him through college as a first-generation student. 

“I want to be an inspiration to others with disabilities, and when they look at me either teaching, coaching, or in the booth one day as a sports commentator or podcaster, I want them to look at me and be like ‘If he did it so can I’,” Bates said. 

Erik Acosta is the web and copy editor and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributor
Erik Acosta
Erik Acosta, Editor-in-Chief
Erik Acosta is the editor-in-chief for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in theatre. He plans to pursue a career in broadcast journalism and print with hopes of working at LA times, Washington Post and ABC News.
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