By Jade Myers/campus editor
Soon-to-graduate TR student John Inthachack, like most students, is busy running around campus attending classes and working his part-time job on campus, excited for the next step in life to begin.
He is a first-generation college student and is transferring to the University of North Texas in the fall to major in business computer information systems.
Unlike most students, he has cerebral palsy.
“I didn’t know until middle school,” Inthachack said. “I just lived with it.”
Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a group of motor disorders that can occur before or after birth and happens in one to two out of every 1,000 births, according to Harvard Health.
Symptoms can include poor muscle control, lack of balance, stiff muscles, seizures and even problems with hearing or vision. People with cerebral palsy have different levels of severity, so not everyone has the same symptoms.
Inthachack has always had trouble getting around. Growing up, he had a walker and braces on his legs, which made him stand out in school.
“Having the walker and having braces on my leg and, of course, getting bullied, things like that, I just lived with it,” he said.
As he got older, he did physical therapy and eventually could walk without assistance.
He graduated from Haltom High School in 2014 and went to TCC. Around the same time, his father left to Laos for work. A couple of months later, his family found out his father decided to stay there and start a new family. This left Inthachack’s mother to take care of him and his little brother. He was now the man of the house and starting college at the same time.
But Inthachack is the kind of person who doesn’t let setbacks get him down and handled his new journey at TCC with positivity and a desire to give back.
He started working at the New Student Welcome Center and currently works in advising and counseling. He also joined P3, a leadership program that helps with new student orientation. Now, five years later, he has found a family in the TR community.
“I call it my home,” Inthachack said. “I just love the environment.”
When he first came to TCC, like most new students, he didn’t know what he needed to do at first. But with help from faculty, staff and students, he figured things out.
For his work with new student orientation, he often gives campus tours.
“Whenever I’m doing the orientation, I just think of the first day I got here,” he said.
Sometimes the amount of walking causes his legs to hurt, but he said it doesn’t stop him from wanting to help.
“It’s a giving back type of thing,” he said. “It really plays into my personality as far as working here and being a student leader because I like to help people because a lot of people have helped me.”
One such person is his mentor, TR success coach Johnny Salas, who was partnered up with him through the intercultural network. The two have been friends for years now.
“I think the biggest thing is he’s always involved, and he likes to talk to everyone,” Salas said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s faculty, staff, students — anyone and everybody, he’s very friendly with.”
Inthachack always encourages people around him to be involved or do things they don’t think they can accomplish, Salas said.
“He’s so funny,” TR student Luz Becerra said. “He brightens your day.”
He attends many events, and if he can’t make one, he apologizes and says that next time he’ll go for sure, Becerra said.
“John’s always looking out for people,” TR student Gabriel Hernandez said. “He gets connected with everybody.”
He is leaving behind a legacy at TR, said Elvis Martinez, senior office assistant at the intercultural network.
“He goes above and beyond for the students, and any questions that you have,” Martinez said. “He’s always there to help out.”
Inthachack’s positive attitude stems from his life experiences. He knows what it’s like to be picked on so he treats others the way he wants to be treated.
“I’ve seen some students that have a walker, and I say a little prayer for them,” he said. “I ask God, ‘If you could this for me, do that for them ‘cause I know what they’re going through.’”
He doesn’t want people to pity him, but he does want people to be inspired and know that if he can accomplish his dreams, so can they.
Having cerebral palsy might make him different, but it also makes him unique.
“I don’t see it as a curse,” he said. “I see it as a blessing ‘cause if I was different, I think my outlook on life would be different.”