Mission accomplished: Temple woman overcomes limitation, graduates from law school - Temple Daily Telegram: Archive

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Mission accomplished: Temple woman overcomes limitation, graduates from law school

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Posted: Sunday, April 29, 2007 12:00 am

WACO - Allison Dickson’s latest goal was achieved Saturday when she graduated summa cum laude from Baylor Law School. Miss Dickson’s accomplishments are remarkable on multiple levels. She suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman muscular dystrophy, which not only confines her to a wheelchair and limits her physical capabilities, but also leaves her vulnerable to illness. As the top graduate of her class, Miss Dickson had an opportunity to craft a speech to be delivered during the commencement ceremony. Leah Jackson, associate dean and professor of law at Baylor Law School, read Miss Dickson’s remarks. In the speech, Miss Dickson admitted she almost dropped out of law school after the second day of orientation when a professor put intense pressure on another student during a mock class. After the incident Miss Dickson returned to the apartment she shared with her mother and told her “I just don’t think I’m tough enough for this.” Miss Dickson went on to say that during her time at law school she learned she and her fellow students were not only tough enough, but shared other traits - intelligence, confidence, humility and determination. In her speech, Miss Dickson thanked her parents, Joe and Johnnie Dickson of Temple. “They have been there with support and encouragement through it all,” she wrote. “Every day they live God’s ultimate lesson of unconditional love and self-sacrifice.” Miss Dickson ended by saying that although her diploma would have one name on it, “we all know it should have three.” Dean Bradley Toben, head of the law school, said Miss Dickson had requested that she not be further singled out during the commencement ceremony, but her request went unheeded. Professor Gerald Powell’s address to the class focused on “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors,” a book that covers the battle off Samar, the Philippines, in October 1944, in which a force of American escort carriers and destroyers fought off a Japanese force many times its strength. A survivor from that battle attended the Saturday ceremony. Powell told the graduates that life is full of challenges. Some are faced with incredible courage, he said, like those who fought in the battle against a much stronger opponent. Others, like Miss Dickson, he said, persevered at a very young age when faced with what seemed to be hopeless odds - multiple surgeries and prolonged illnesses. It takes courage and determination to become winners in the face of incredible adversity, Powell said. He asked how that determination was made. “Faith makes everything possible … faith in yourself, faith of others in you and faith in God,” Powell said. Miss Dickson’s parents were also recognized during the ceremony. They made it possible for Miss Dickson to attend college and law school by moving wherever her studies took her. Mrs. Dickson received a diploma from the law school dean for having sat through six months of practice court and offering encouragement, not only to her daughter, but also to all of the participating students. A replica of a Baylor bear was presented to Mr. and Mrs. Dickson for their unwavering support of their daughter during her time at Baylor Law School. Miss Dickson’s immediate plans include returning to Temple with her mother to rest and regroup and to eventually begin reviewing for the bar exam. jgibbs@temple-telegram.com

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