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The Roots of Comrades Of Courage

In 2003 Staci Balsan and Paul McGowan decided to return to school to further their educations. Both Paul and Staci had everal mobility impairments and knew returning to school would be a challenge for them. They met in USA's Humanity Building while taking an English 102 class together and began talking about some of the barriers they faced on the campus. A cheeky friendship emerged—one of shared interest and common goals—and they both realized the campus and classrooms needed a lot of work to be more accommodating for folks with handicaps. Nevertheless, the idea to start a student organization supporting disabled students was not one that exactly originated with Paul or Staci.  An administrator personally requested Staci and Paul start a students organization for people with special needs. Slowly but surely the two friends were guided towards creating the organization. It seemed to Paul and Staci it eventually took on a life of its own as it grew and transformed, like most newborns it required lots of attention.

The Name

What shall we call it they thought? In the SGA office Paul McGowan wrote down about 20 different possible names on a blank sheet of paper which slid over to Staci to choose a name from the list. Staci was immediately drawn to the name "Comrades of Courage". Later someone, who knows who anymore, shortened this to COC, and before they knew it the new kid on the block had a catchy name. The organization's motto, "Be A Link in the Chain Of Change", was born in a technical writing class—Paul McGowan used COC as his class writing project. The name and motto were only the first steps to real change at USA and soon they got to the hard work of changing hearts and minds.

The Beginning

C O C became official on June 10th, 2004 and immediately set to work on the accessibility problems all about the University campus. Through letters, phone calls, emails, faxes, and open discussions with administration, C O C began taking steps with USA towards being a Barrier-Free University.

The Future

The future has to include you: without you the future of C O C is dim, therefore, we urge you to become a member and keep the changes going. C O C will evolve as its officer’s change and its member base also changes. However, the roots and the dream of a Barrier-Free University will always the anchor of C O C. Join Us!

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