RCBC Student Overcomes Disability and Defies Odds of Attending College
Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024

Carly Gels, an RCBC student majoring in music and scheduled to graduate in spring 2025, never saw herself attending college due to her disability. 

In 2015, Gels was diagnosed with autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. These conditions made it challenging to concentrate and learn in traditional classroom settings. As a result, Gels’ parents opted to enroll her in an alternative school close to RCBC, which prioritized hands-on learning. Fortunately, due to its proximity, Gels could visit the RCBC campus frequently on walks or during her free time.

“Stepping onto a college campus, at first, was scary,” Gels said. “The school was so big and different than what I was used to, but the people here were so friendly, which made it less scary.” 

While at the alternative school, she attended some classes at the RCBC campus and got to know the environment well. After completing high school, she had no doubt she would pursue her academic career at RCBC. The music program at RCBC is excellent and equips students with the necessary abilities and skills to succeed after graduation. 

Music has been a source of joy for Gels since childhood and has always helped her escape reality’s overwhelming nature. She is passionate about anything related to music and feels excited whenever she attends a music class. Gels looks forward to using the skills she has learned at RCBC to pursue her dream of working in the music industry.

Gels overcame her fear of attending college, became highly involved and now serves as a peer mentor to help others who might be scared. Peer mentors are crucial members of the RCBC community, as they are often the first point of contact for students, parents and visitors when entering the Student Success Center or receiving guidance on tours.

Sometimes, she finds herself questioning herself and her abilities, but having the support and kindness from the RCBC peer mentor family gives her the confidence she needs.
“Occasionally, I feel like I shouldn’t be here and thought I was kinda stupid, but I remind myself that I just learn differently and fight to be here. I can do it, too,” Gels said.