Running a Race of Her Own
Running a Race of Her Own
The story of Quinn Crispell and her first semester as a DIII student-athlete with Down syndrome
Quinn Crispell, a first-year student with Down syndrome, accomplished her first semester as a DIII cross country athlete as a traditional full-time student, achieving a 3.75 GPA and set to run in the National Down Syndrome Society’s relay race in March.
Crispell is unique because she is believed to be the first person with Down syndrome to compete in a varsity sport on the NCAA level. Since being a 7th grader at Wyoming Valley West, Crispell has been running cross country, working closely with the coaching staff at Misericordia. She is seen running with her team across campus during practice and throughout the day, showing her dedication to the sport.
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) explains how Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. However, Individuals with Down syndrome are becoming increasingly integrated into society and community organizations, such as schools, health care systems, workforces, and social and recreational activities.
When asking Crispell about running cross country, she says, “I love running and being part of the team! Even my one friend on the team was a teammate in high school.” She talks about her favorite race she has even run, her race at Disney. “I really, really love Disney. You get to go through all the different countries and through Epcot, and it is really cool.” She also participates in the National Down Syndrome Society’s 3.21 Run, where she participates and runs to raise awareness about the abilities of individuals who have Down syndrome.
Her next big race will be with the National Down Syndrome Society’s relay race from March 17-19, where she will run for Team NDSS 3.75 miles in the relay that starts in New York City and to Washington, DC. The event is in conjunction with World Down Syndrome Day, which is March 21st.
However, her time at Misericordia is not just filled with running cross country; she is also a traditional full-time student. Crispell made the Misericordia Dean’s List and the MAC Academic Honor Roll for her first semester with a 3.75 GPA. When asked about her favorite class, she says, “I am taking a religion class. We are talking about Daoism and all these religions that are really interesting.” Crispell uses Misericordia’s Alternative Learners Program (ALP) to complete her full-time classes.
In 1979, ALP was the first program of its kind in Pennsylvania, which Dr. Joe Rogan started. Only a few similar programs are found in the United States. ALP is a structured program that goes beyond the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by providing additional support.
Students at Misericordia in ALP start before their first-year orientation in August as part of the Bridge program, which was developed to help students transition into college through workshops and socialization. ALP students are provided additional skills and strategies during their first semester in the Learning Strategies course. What makes ALP so important is that the students work one-on-one with an ALP Program Coordinator, meeting once a week or more to help with accommodations, academic planning, working with faculty, and socializing on campus. Students can go to their coordinators for anything and everything.
Misericordia University also offers many resources on campus to students, such as a tutoring and writing center and math labs, all of which Crispell utilizes to maximize her success in the classroom, along with ALP services. Meeting with her counselor, Jessica Aritz, M.S., coordinator, ALP, twice a week or more with a smile, Crispell makes sure to check in and use the ALP services that help a traditional full-time student in the program.
Aritz says she notices that the cross country team has allowed Crispell to have an excellent social connection on campus. Artiz says Crispell has a “sweet and kind demeanor that makes her easy to talk to and get along with. It’s a delight to see her walking around campus and see other students stopping to say hi and ask how her day is going. Quinn is always excited to tell me about lunch with her teammates and friends. It has been a delight getting to know Quinn this semester, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.”
Just talking to Crispell, you can tell that her smile makes everyone’s day just a little brighter. The message is that Down syndrome does not make Crispell who she is, but rather something she has because Crispell is a runner, friend, student, MU cougar, daughter, and an incredible person. Her future is limitless at Misericordia University and beyond.