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Academy of Richmond County graduate ignores physical limitations

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There are days when kids ask JaQueria Rogers why she’s in a wheelchair.

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JaQueria Rogers receives her diploma at the ARC graduation ceremony at James Brown Arena.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
JaQueria Rogers receives her diploma at the ARC graduation ceremony at James Brown Arena.

If they don’t actually form the words, their stares say it all.

To Rogers, who most know simply as Q, the answer is simple.

“This was how it was meant to be,” she said. “I wasn’t meant to be able to walk. I bet whether I was in town or out of town or old or young, this would have happened.”

Rogers, who graduated from the Academy of Richmond County on Sunday, doesn’t question the way things are. After being hit by a drunk driver when she was 20 months old, Rogers never walked, didn’t dance at prom, didn’t take her parents’ car for a spin when she turned 16.

But her accomplishments amaze those who know her, not because she’s in a wheelchair, but because she’s a young woman with a fire inside.

“She has always been someone who initiates the process, not just a person who stands by and waits for something to happen,” said ARC senior guidance counselor Sonya Bolden Weaver. “She’s a good friend to a lot of students.”

In the fall, Rogers will leave the city where she has lived all her life to attend Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah. She wanted to go to the University of Georgia but after a visit realized the campus would be too hilly.

Armstrong turned out to be a perfect fit. Rogers wants to study radiologic science, an interest that grew after spending summer after summer in the hospital for spine surgery.

In middle school Rogers was laidback, shy and reserved. But when she hit high school, she started to branch out and enjoy being a teenager.

She became interested in fashion and loves stylish blouses and hair accessories.

She went to senior prom with a group of friends and wore a sparkly black dress with bright red Converse sneakers.

Rogers held an A or B average her senior year while juggling International Baccalaureate classes and a part-time job answering phones and monitoring laser tag at Adventure Crossing.

“I would like to encourage other people in my situation to always do what you can no matter what,” she said. “Everything I envision in my future, it’s been in this chair, and I’m OK with that.”

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