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'Why shouldn't I?': An inspiring story from the class of 2024

Posted at 5:56 PM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 18:56:07-04

DE PERE (NBC 26) — Seth Mayrer graduated from St. Norbert College on Sunday as a part of the class of 2024, many of whom did not get an in-person graduation from high school in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayrer dealt with more challenges than most during his college experience, overcoming the limitations of his cerebral palsy.

  • Mayrer has left-side hemiplegia cerebral palsy
  • He overcame his condition to give tours, produce a theatre show, thrive in the classroom, and perform with the Knights on Broadway
  • Mayrer is on his way to Greece for a summer trip with St. Norbert before heading to Marquette to begin a graduate program in Applied Economics
  • "You see, I could never imagine my life without cerebral palsy — because then it's no longer mine," Mayrer said in a Ted Talk-type speech in 2023
  • Video shows Mayrer enjoying life before and during graduation at St. Norbert

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

The class of 2024 is done here at St. Norbert College, getting a real graduation Sunday after most of them did not in high school. We're with one new graduate who faced a bigger challenge than most.

Seth Mayrer walked across the stage Sunday with a slight limp — but like most days, he doesn't let it bother him.

"I would think about it on days when I had extra pain or just bad days, but really, it wasn't something that plagued me," Mayrer said.

Seth has cerebral palsy on the left side of his body. It's the reason that he couldn't pursue his dream of being a hockey player.

"I struggled with, on the one hand, being told that I could achieve anything in my life," Mayrer said, "while, on the other, I was faced with the harsh reality of my specific situation."

But at St. Norbert, he found other physical and social outlets — giving tours, music, and theatre.

"Going and doing shows, it's a mix of physically and emotionally draining in a lot of ways, but incredibly rewarding," Mayrer said.

He also thrived in the classroom — something he says can be difficult for some people with cerebral palsy.

"In my younger years, you know, I definitely did struggle a lot," Mayrer said. "I had a very hard time in a lot of aspects of school. That was something that was very difficult for me."

Professor Marc von der Ruhr taught Seth in four different classes and pushed him to apply to a graduate program in applied economics.

"I said to him, you can do this," von der Ruhr said. "So yeah, if you're interested, go ahead and talk to the professor at Marquette. And let's see if this can work out. And I'm sure he'll be very successful down there."

Seth plans to continue making the most of his educational experiences — choosing to view his disability as a vital part of his identity, rather than being dealt a bad hand.

"Why shouldn't I? If I am able to, why shouldn't I use that?" he said. "Because there's so many other people who can't."

Seth is on his way to Greece for a summer program with St. Norbert, and then heading off to Milwaukee for grad school.