FREDERICKTOWN -- As a part of its 60th anniversary celebration, the Fredericktown High School Class of 1959 has established a scholarship to honor the life and legacy of a classmate, Julie Cochran Rogers.
In 1955, at age 15, Julie contracted polio and lived the rest of her life as a paraplegic. However, long before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, this young woman from Fredericktown, who would not let her disability keep her from her dreams.
"She did not accept no from a town without curb cuts to allow wheelchairs to easily maneuver sidewalks," said classmate Janet Hadley Mather. "She did not accept no from a high school with many steps; she did not accept no from a university that said no you can’t come here, because your classes would have a barrier of 97 steps.
"This young woman accepted any challenge placed before her."
Rogers finished her secondary education at Fredericktown thanks in part to the young men who pushed her to school each day, in all kinds of weather.
"(Those that helped included) the strong arms that carried Julie in her wheelchair up and down the three flights of stairs; and the young women who carried the books of the young men who were carrying her wheelchair," Mather said.
Following two years at the Mansfield campus of Ohio State University, Julie was told that, because of a barrier of 97 steps to classes in Derby Hall, she could not realize her dream of becoming a speech therapist.
"She persevered and that challenge was addressed by a fraternity that made it their mission to get her to classes each day, much like the young men at Fredericktown High School did," Mather said.
Rogers received her B.S. in 1970 and her M.A. in 1974.
The Class of 1959 accepted the challenge of establishing the Julie Cochran Rogers Scholarship.
If you knew Julie and would like to contribute to the scholarship honoring her life and legacy, you can do so by sending a check to FHS Alumni Association with “Julie Scholarship” in the memo line to: Community Foundation of Knox County/Mt. Vernon, P. O. Box 309, Mt. Vernon, OH 43050.
The Class of 1959 honors Julie Cochran Rogers Scholarship is the 10th named scholarship as a part of the Fredericktown Alumni Association’s Scholarship Fund.