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Bismarck woman featured in thesis project highlighting college graduates who have Down syndrome



Bismarck, North Dakota – College graduation is a significant event, but for certain students, it holds a little extra significance. A master’s thesis project will highlight twenty recent college graduates from around the world.

All of the subjects and the photographer share a two- or four-year college degree, which is the only similarity between them. And each one of them has Down syndrome.

Photographer Rachel Handlin is one.

“I like taking pictures,” said Handlin.

She is a graduate student as well as a storyteller. She is exploring the globe while gathering images and tales from Elizabeth Romanick and other folks.

Romanick is a Minot State University alumnus. She is one of 20 college graduates with Down syndrome who will be highlighted in Handlin’s master’s thesis. They are all from different parts of the world.

Social networking allowed Romanick and Handlin to meet and quickly become friends.

“I love this girl,” Handlin said about Romanick. “We are so proud of her.”

On the Minot State campus and in Bismarck, Handlin captured Romanick in photographs.

“It is amazing to see how many people I impacted and inspired other people,” said Romanick.

Even Christian McMerty, Romanick’s longtime friend, was captured in a few pictures by Handlin.

“I got pictures with everyone I know,” said Romanick.

And a lot may be inferred from these images. They convey a message of tenacity, grit, and motivation.

The mother of Handlin believes that they will have an effect and inspire more individuals with Down syndrome to pursue higher education.

“She wants children with Down syndrome to get an education like her,” said Laura Handlin, Rachel’s mom.

She is now demonstrating to the world that everything is possible through her images.

Handlin will finish her thesis by the spring of 2019. Her work can be followed on Instagram.