Alexander D’Jamoos, a Liberal Arts Honors/International Relations and Global Studies sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts, spent his summer climbing Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Born in Penza, Russia, he grew up in an orphanage for children with disabilities. At age 16, he was adopted by an American family and moved from Russia to Texas, where he learned how to walk on prosthetic legs through the I Want To Walk program, run by the Happy Families International Center, Inc. For the past five years, D’Jamoos has volunteered as a translator and spokesperson for the New York-based organization that aims to formalize adoption of Russian children in the United States and help orphans adapt to adult life.
His goal for the climb was to bring attention to the program and to show other disabled orphans in Russia — and countries throughout the world — that nothing is impossible or unreachable. Overall, he hiked 26 miles in four days on prosthetics and his hands. D’Jamoos says the trip was the most difficult challenge of his life, but he truly hopes it can serve as an effective message that physical disabilities are by no means a barrier to achieving one’s dreams.