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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 7 | May 2, 2002

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," she says.

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," Edgar says.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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