By Paige Parvin 96G
Ruthie Sidell 17C grew up around the corner from Emory, but as a freshman this fall, she is seeing the university from a whole new perspective.
For Sidell, “seeing” is not to be taken for granted. She was born legally blind due to congenital cataracts in both her eyes and had corrective surgery as an infant. When her family moved to Atlanta so that her father could accept a faculty position at Emory, she was treated at the Emory Eye Center by three different ophthalmologists: Scott Lambert, who implanted intra-ocular lenses in her eyes when she was fifteen, allowing her to set aside the thick glasses she had worn for years; oculoplastic specialist Ted Wojno, who surgically repaired a droopy eyelid; and glaucoma specialist Allen Beck, who continues to manage her glaucoma today.
“Because of the Eye Center, I have always known what amazing people and programs Emory has,” Sidell says. “I could not pass up the opportunity to come here and experience it.”
As a student at Druid Hills High School, Sidell wrote a paper on underage drinking that was a finalist in the Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition. As an intern for an online magazine, she also started a project called the Why Are You Beautiful Project, which caught fire and inspired hundreds of girls to share photos of themselves holding signs about their personal triumphs. And one of Sidell’s own photos, taken of her best friend, was selected for a student exhibit at the High Museum of Art.
Although school has often been difficult for Sidell because of her vision challenges, she is thrilled with her Emory experience so far. “I love it,” she says. “I’m meeting so many new people.” Sidell is interested in studying psychology and child mental health in particular, and also hopes to continue to grow and develop as a writer. She would like to study abroad in Italy or Greece. For now, though, she is happy just to look around and take it all in—new friends, her dorm, her freshman class schedule, and the Emory campus—with near-perfect vision.
John Latting, dean of admission, on the class of 2017: “When I look at this class, I see students that are well prepared to benefit from Emory academically and socially, and who will also engage with their fellow students and faculty to make an impact on our community. . . . I am very excited for the rest of the Emory community to meet them.”