MEDIA ALERT

WHAT: Jeff Lawler, a blind medical student, will graduate from medical

school on Friday, May 14, with the support from his family and friends

and his guide dog Burke. Jeff has successfully completed four years of

medical school to become a physician and is making plans for an

internship and residencies. Lawler will be graduating from the College

of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Western University of Health

Sciences in Pomona.

WHY: Lawler’s story is compelling. He has been blind since 1993,

returned to college and then was admitted to medical school. He is

leading a path for persons with disabilities in the health care

professions. He was featured in an article in The New York Times,

(Tuesday, November 25, 2003, “”Barriers Toppling for Disabled Medical

Students””). His blindness is the result of retinitis pigmentosa. One of

Jeff’s rotation experiences was to join an Ob/Gyn doctor and deliver a

child to an Iranian couple living in the Midwest. Because of religious

beliefs, men are not allowed to deliver babies to women, but because of

his blindness and the relationship he established with the couple, he was

asked to deliver the baby.

WHERE: Lawler lives in Denver, Colorado and has just finished his family

practice rotation there. He will be returning to Southern California for

commencement at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Friday, May 14. He is

available for telephone interviews in Denver and will be available when

he arrives in Southern California for commencement.

PHOTO OP: Lawler will be attending commencement at the Pasadena Civic

Auditorium on Friday, May 14 at noon. The ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m.

He will be hooded during the ceremony by his wife, who is also blind, and

by Brenda Premo, director of the Center for Disability Issues and the

Health Professions at Western University.