James Sartor with his mother Thelma and his nephew outside the James E. Shepard Memorial Library.

Student carves out his own path

November 11, 2022

“The only difference I notice is navigating around campus,” said James Sartor, an NCCU mass communication student who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age.

Native to the Carolinas, Sartor comes from a family that has made a major contribution to who he is today. His mother, NCCU alumna Thelma Sartor, underwent a high-risk pregnancy and gave birth to Sartor prematurely.

Sartor said he takes pride in being a family-oriented individual and his connection to his mother. His desire to be of service to others directly stemmed from his mother Thelma and his recently deceased father James.

“My whole life my family has been a family of service. It made me want to be kind,” Sartor said.

“Just because I’m in a wheelchair, or just because I have challenges, does not mean I need to be mean to other people.”

Sartor’s history at NCCU started at a young age. He spent summers on campus with family who either worked for or were graduates at the institution. His mother and aunt influenced his decision to enroll at NCCU.

As a result, he developed his own appreciation for the environment and for NCCU’s family atmosphere, all of which resulted in his decision to become an Eagle.

“I do keep the memories I shared with my family in mind as I continue to grow and develop as an Eagle,” Sartor said.

After getting his associates degree at Durham Tech, Sartor transferred to NCCU in 2020.

Sartor’s childhood served as the catalyst to his love for music. He found himself playing with electronics rather than toys throughout his youth.

He’s now studying mass communications with a concentration in broadcasting where he’s been an inspiration to his colleagues.

“Everytime he comes into class he has great energy,” his classmate Julia French said

“James is a beautiful example of preserving through adversity,” his classmate Khazar Lewis said. “James has a big world inside of him.”

But, Sartor says the life he lives is bigger than him.

“I have never known anyone as polite as he is. He thanks me every time I answer a question for him or do anything. He is exceedingly polite. It says a lot about his character,” NCCU instructor Thomas Letts said. “I have a special interest in his success.”

According to Sartor, his family was the first place he experienced what it feels like to be of service to other people.

“Every goal I have accomplished personally and academically have been great learning experiences,” Sartor said.

“The memories that I create and the relationships I form as a student of NCCU, I will cherish and carry them with me throughout life as I continue to achieve other milestones.”

 

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James Sartor with his mother Thelma and his nephew outside the James E. Shepard Memorial Library.
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