SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: Romanick advocates for others

MINOT, N.D. – Early in her college career, running a meeting was something out of Elizabeth Romanick’s comfort zone.

Now she advocates for people with intellectual disabilities on a regular basis.

Her sophomore year, Romanick was the vice president of the Minot State Residence Hall Association (RHA), one of the first environments where she stepped up to a leadership position.

“I had been helping with meetings,” she said, “but the president wasn’t there, so I had to take over. I had never done that. I had never been that kind of leader before. I never went out of my comfort zone. It was kind of neat doing that.”

Though in her senior year at Century High School in Bismarck, Romanick questioned pursuing a postsecondary education, but her family inspired her to move to Minot and get a degree.

“I second guessed myself. I didn’t know what to do, whether I was going to end up at college or not,” she said. “At one point, people with intellectual disabilities couldn’t go to college, and I always said, this is not me. I decided to choose Minot because I want to carry on my uncle’s legacy (John Phillips ’68) and his story.”

Romanick graduated with an Associate of Applied Science – Paraprofessional Educator Early Childhood and certificates in technical studies and college studies from the Advancing Students Toward Education and Employment Program (ASTEP). The program supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in attending college and was the first of its kind in the state. ASTEP also works with Dakota College at Bottineau and Bismarck State College in implementing other transition programs.

“I chose those fields because my mom works with families with people who have disabilities or new babies with intellectual disabilities,” she said. “I had more experience in the early childhood area. I did a lot of work with my mom. I observed her, I observed many daycares. It was a great line of work because I had a lot of experience.”

MSU Life, RHA, cheerleading, student government, and even working with the National Down Syndrome Congress all have been highlights of Romanick’s four years in Minot, but becoming a leader within ASTEP has been her favorite.

“This year, I got a position with ASTEP, I got a job from them,” she said. “It’s called the coleader position in ASTEP Elevated (a leadership project through ASTEP, funded by the North Dakota State Council on Developmental Disabilities), and I think that’s what I love the most because I can experience working with mentors and working with students. I work with the team of ASTEP, getting more involved, and I’m treated like a leader. I got to teach the LAW class, living in the adult world, where you help students to be prepared for the real world we’re going into, like how to use their credit and debit cards. It’s awesome to see students come in and to help them. They’re glad to see me there because I get to help them.”

Having moved back to Bismarck, Romanick plans on working in her field of study so she can continue helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“I want to be a leader for the future, being a leader and advocate for others so they can learn how to advocate for themselves,” she said. “I get to embrace who I am so I can share my story with other people and spread the love and kindness that I can.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 05/19/22   

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