UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 7 | May
Edgar for the Defense
Overcoming obstacles to give others a hand up.
By Helen Lewis
Studying law is tough at the best of times, but Natasha Edgar's
path to a UBC law degree has been even harder than most.
Quadriplegic since a spinal cord injury at 17, Edgar has overcome
a host of challenges, throwing her energies into study, sport, work
and community service with great success.
After completing a Diploma in Canadian Studies at Langara College
and a Bachelor of Arts at UBC, Edgar took up half-time studies for
the Bachelor of Laws at UBC in 1997.
"It seemed like a practical choice that would give me flexibility
and enable me to work on disability issues from a legal perspective,"
UBC's Disability Resource Centre (DRC) helped her deal with many
obstacles by providing note-takers, research assistants, exam scribes
and special computer space.
In 1998 Edgar started working for the DRC as a Disability Awareness
Trainer. She also worked for the Crane library as a student reader,
helping visually impaired students. Since 1997 she has been president
of the Tetra Development Society of North America, a non-profit
society that focuses on the development of special adaptive devices
for people with disabilities.
In her spare time, Edgar loves sailing around Jericho cove. A member
of the Disabled Sailing Association at Jericho Sailing Centre, Edgar
sails a specially modified sailboat with a volunteer instructor.
"I like the feeling of freedom and being able to actually
move without being attached to a wheelchair," she says. "For
a while, it makes me feel as though I don't really have a disability
and I've left that all on land. However, I have to store my wheelchair
in a secure location as our organization has had a few calls of
concern over empty wheelchairs at the end of the dock!"
After graduating and writing the Bar Exam, Edgar will work as an
articling student for the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre, which
represents the interests of underrepresented and disadvantaged groups.
Edgar credits the Disability Resource Centre, the support of university
staff, and her friends and family with giving her the strength andmeans
to "persevere in the face of obstacles."
She says it has been particularly helpful to have her sister Melissa,
a recent classical studies graduate, with her at UBC. "It's
been great having her companionship... her sense of humour and wit
have helped to lift my spirits."
Vancouver City Councillor and Tetra Development Society CEO Sam
Sullivan has also been a role model and mentor for her. "He
has overcome the challenges of his quadriplegia... his example has
encouraged and inspired me, and has shown me that it is possible
to live with a disability and still accomplish your goals,"