University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
April 19, 2010
Contact: Jennifer Z. Ekman, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6360
Blind Mountain Climber Erik Weihenmayer to Address USA's
Spring Commencement on May 8
Ceremony to be held at 2 p.m. at USA Mitchell Center
Erik Weihenmayer  
Erik Weihenmayer
A man who overcame daunting challenges to become one of the most intriguing athletes in the world, blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer will address University of South Alabama graduates at the University’s Spring Commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 8 at the USA Mitchell Center.

The ceremony marks the beginning for 1,275 graduates, bringing the total degrees awarded for the academic year to 2,683. USA has awarded 67,413 degrees throughout its history.

At the Spring Commencement ceremony, USA will award 860 bachelor's degrees, 250 master's degrees, seven educational specialists degrees, 66 doctor of medicine degrees, 41 doctor of physical therapy degrees, 28 doctor of nursing practice degrees, 11 doctor of audiology degrees, and 12 doctors of philosophy degrees.

Additionally, USA and the Mobile County Public School System will partner again this year to provide live streaming of the University's Spring Commencement. The live coverage begins May 8 at 2 p.m., CDST, on the University's Web site at Recorded video of the event will be available online at the same address following the live Web cast.

Video streaming of all MCPSS schools to hold graduation inside the USA Mitchell Center may be seen at A high school graduation schedule is available on the same Web site. Only Citronelle High School's graduation will not be video streamed because it is not held inside the Mitchell Center.

Erik Weihenmayer: Overcoming Great Obstacles to Achieve His Goals

A former middle school teacher and wrestling coach, Weihenmayer overcame daunting challenges to become one of the most intriguing athletes in the world. Despite losing his vision at age 13, he has become an accomplished mountain climber, paraglider, and skier who has never let his blindness interfere with his passion for an exhilarating and fulfilling life.

In 2001, Weihenmayer became the only blind man in history to reach the summit of the world's highest peak - Mount Everest. By 2008, he had completed his quest to climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. Fewer than 100 mountaineers have accomplished this feat.

His accomplishments have earned him an ESPY award from sports network ESPN, recognition by TIME magazine, induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Helen Keller Lifetime Achievement award, Nike's Casey Martin Award, and the Freedom Foundation's Free Spirit Award, among others. He has also carried the Olympic Torch for both the Summer and Winter Games. In addition to being a world-class athlete, Weihenmayer is also the author of the book, "Touch the Top of the World," which was made into a feature film.

His second book, "The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness," co-authored with business guru and best-selling author Dr. Paul Stoltz, was released in 2007. Weihenmayer has also been published in TIME, Forbes, and Reader's Digest. His award-winning film, "Farther Than the Eye Can See" was ranked in the top 20 adventure films of all time by Men's Journal and was nominated for two Emmy's.

Weihenmayer's extraordinary accomplishments have gained him abundant press coverage including repeated visits to NBC's "Today Show" and "Nightly News," "Oprah," "Good Morning America," "Nightline," and the "Tonight Show" to name a few. He has also been featured on the cover of TIME, Outside, and Climbing magazine.

He is a co-founder of No Barriers, a nonprofit organization with a goal of promoting innovative ideas, approaches, and assistive technologies which help people with disabilities push through their own personal barriers to live full and active lives. Weihenmayer also serves as a National Braille Literacy Champion on behalf of the American Foundation for the Blind.

With a speaking career that has spanned the globe, he has shared speaking platforms with notables such as former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, and former Vice President Al Gore. Weihenmayer uses these opportunities to encourage audiences to harness the power of adversity and pursue their dreams. His storied accomplishments clearly testify to the power of hard work, determination and courage.


For the graduating students, there will be reserved parking in the parking lot across from the Student Recreation Center on Jaguar Drive, which is located behind the Mitchell College of Business. Admittance to the Physical Education Building is limited to graduating students only.

Handicapped parking will be limited but is available for students, family and friends. Entrance to this parking lot will be from Old Shell Road only (behind the Mitchell Center). Proper tags must be visible for access to this lot.

SHUTTLE SERVICES (for family and guests)

Signage will be set up on University Boulevard and Old Shell Road, which will direct traffic to the shuttle/parking areas. In addition, directional parking signage will be displayed.

SHUTTLE TIMES: Shuttle services will run from noon to 6 p.m.

SHUTTLE PICKUP POINTS: University Commons, Gamma Residence Hall parking lot, Humanities Building parking lot, Administration Building parking lot, Jaguar Drive, and the parking lot east of the Computer Science Building.


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