Gregory Lobo was born with Spina Bifida, had surgery after he was born and has been wheelchair bound his entire life. While this may hinder some, it is not even a speed bump in Lobo’s life.
“Because it’s all I’ve ever known, it doesn’t affect me the same way it might if I had gotten hurt,” said Lobo, a sophomore history major.
Spina Bifida is a birth defect where the backbone and membranes surrounding the spinal cord are not completely closed. Lobo explained that his disability did not prevent him from pursuing his passions in high school.
Lobo found his love for theater there.
“I found something that I loved, something that made me happy and something that I could do even being disabled which was important for my development,” Lobo said.
He received a Rising Star award from the Paper Mill Playhouse for his performance as Big Jule in his high school’s production of “Guys and Dolls” during his senior year.
Lobo said that the transition from high school to college was not as difficult as he had expected. Lobo chose Seton Hall because he and his family loved the idea of a Catholic education.
Another major aspect of Lobo’s decision was transportation, which, as a commuter, he said is very important to him. He noted that the South Orange train station has a raised platform and that it is how he gets on and off the train.
While he said SHU has provided almost everything he needs for a successful college career, Lobo acknowledged there are a few challenges.
Lobo said that the hill outside the bookstore can make it difficult for him to gain entry. He also recognized that most buildings have wheelchair buttons to open doors, but he said he wished they were in all of the buildings.
Lobo is involved with Pirates for Life, the pro-life club on campus. Lobo explained Pirates for Life is tied to his identity as a disabled individual.
Before Lobo was born his mother knew his diagnosis and the challenges he would have to face.
Lobo noted what a radiologist said to his mother, “We already diagnosed this, why haven’t you taken care of it?”
Lobo said the rates of disability abortions, especially in this area, are very troublesome.
Benjamin Jaros, a sophomore economics major, said Lobo’s determination is his greatest strength.
“Every day he approaches his subjects and his time with friends with that same determination mindset to not just learn but to grow,” Jaros said.
Jaros said the greatest lesson he learned from Lobo was, “Disabilities are not ‘disabilities’- to label someone as disabled is to cheapen the world view and perspective they have apart from yours.”
Dr. Dermot Quinn, a history professor at SHU, had the pleasure of having Lobo as a student in his Irish history class. “He never asked a question which wasn’t thoughtful, insightful or engaging,” Quinn said.
Quinn said he admires the conviction Lobo has displayed for his beliefs and value system.
“In a very brief period of time, Gregory has made himself one of the best known students on campus,” Quinn said. “Despite obvious challenges, he is fiercely determined to live life to the fullest and, in word and person, to defend with unusual eloquence the dignity of every human life.”
Veronica Gaspa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.