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Aug 30th, 2012

Freshman profile: Kingsley Floyd inspires others by overcoming great challenges

High Point University student Kings FloydIf you see a bright red flash soar past you on campus this fall, there’s probably only one explanation – Kingsley Floyd.Floyd, a freshman who goes by “Kings,” is a Presidential Scholar who is battling muscular dystrophy, a disease that weakens muscles and results in the loss of muscle tissue over time. But it hasn’t slowed Floyd down. She uses a shiny, apple red scooter to navigate her way around campus and remain independent in her academic career.It isn’t your average scooter, as Floyd is quick to point out with pride. It has a black leather seat, a basket on the front and lots of speed to move across campus.

“I pride myself on how fast I can go, often telling my friends they are too slow and looping around until they can catch up,” says Floyd.

Her scooter is noticeable, but it isn’t what stands out the most. Floyd, who moved from her home in Maine to attend HPU, has an attitude that is contagiously positive. And her goal in life is to one day give back to others with disabilities.

While reading and writing have always been passions, disability support services have her attention as well. Floyd’s dream job would be consulting with disability support services on college campuses to empower students with disabilities to attend college and remain independent, just like her.

Her life is parallel to the people she wants to help one day. She was born with a rare version of muscular dystrophy called merosin-deficient congenital muscular dystrophy. After she learned to walk at age three, Floyd was running around like most kids until her muscles began to deplete around 10 years old. She wore braces on her legs to help support her, but eventually this became more and more difficult. In seventh grade, Floyd got her first scooter, and gradually became fully dependent on it to get around – something that was not easy at first.

“The first day I got the scooter, everyone wanted to touch it, everyone wanted to look at it – it was cool,” says Floyd. “But at the same time, it was frustrating because you feel you’re entitled to being able to walk, but it’s something you get used to. I try to see my scooter as a luxury that no one else has.”

Floyd has had to overcome challenges that most kids haven’t even thought about, but these challenges have made her stronger. She has always excelled in school, making sure to stay ahead, maintain good relationships with teachers and fill every moment with an activity. Boredom is not something she deals with well.

Floyd spent what she considers the best summer of her life at Pine Tree Camp, a camp for kids with physical and mental disabilities. After attending as a camper the previous summer, she felt like she could do more by being a counselor. She learned so much by having people depend on her, an exciting, new experience. But after a bittersweet ending to a great summer, Floyd is ready for college. Something she wasn’t sure would be possible. When she was hospitalized in 2008 due to a seizure disorder, doctors thought Floyd would be confined to her home.

“College was the BIG thing when I was little – get my own food, live on my own, do everything on my own. Now, at almost the two year mark of being seizure free, I’m as independent as ever.”

However, coming to college didn’t happen without a few worries. Floyd was contacted by Gail Tuttle, vice president of Student Life, after submitting her essay for the Presidential Scholarship. Tuttle made sure to relieve any worries Floyd had about attending HPU. She connected her with a great roommate, helped her figure out how to access books electronically and made sure she had the accommodations needed to make HPU a great place for Floyd. “Gail tackled every scenario of how I could get around best.” In addition to Tuttle, there were a few key people that made it possible for Floyd to attend school at HPU, including Jeff Karpovich, Dana Bright and Trey Walker. “They were all critical in getting me here,” says Floyd.

Floyd claims her subconscious knew she was going to HPU before she did. It was always the first school she told people she had applied to, the one she spouted out facts about and eventually the first school she received an acceptance letter from. During her interview for the Presidential Scholarship, she met a group of students who invited her to Starbucks. She feels like this is when she found her niche at HPU because she got started with people who brought new experiences to her life, and she brought some to theirs.

By being a Presidential Scholar, she will be held to a higher standard with her GPA, academic involvement and extracurricular activities, and Floyd is more than capable of keeping up. As a student who has always excelled in academics, she is a self-acclaimed “foody,” loves music, reading and writing poetry. “I am normal, just in a different way.”

One thing she truly believes in is that there is always another way to do something. “Growing up with challenges with your body, you’ll find that if you can’t do it one way, use your mind. It is possible, it may just be different.”