The Catholic University of America

May 12, 2012

Biomedical Engineering Graduate Succeeds Despite Dyslexia Obstacles


Clayton, Billy, and Bonnie Vermillion celebrate Billy's graduation.

Thousands of proud parents gathered at Catholic University on May 12 to witness their sons and daughters graduate. Among the proudest were Bonnie and Clayton Vermillion, whose son Billy earned a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering. 

“It has been an amazing journey,” said Bonnie Vermillion. When her son was in elementary school, she learned that he struggled with severe dyslexia. As he entered the fourth grade, he was reading on a kindergarten level. 

“But he has always had the drive to succeed,” she says.

She searched for schools and programs that would help her son achieve his dreams, and he attended the Summit School in Edgewater, Md., and the Lab School of Washington. Both schools helped the CUA graduate learn to cope with the challenges of dyslexia.

He uses a software program that reads aloud electronic documents, and another that helps with writing. At Catholic University he has had the help of note takers, and is able to take tests in a testing center equipped with the reading and writing software.

As part of a partnership with Ann Arundel Community College, he transferred to Catholic University two years ago. Next year, he will continue an accelerated degree program at the University and work toward his master’s degree in engineering. His dream is to be able to apply biomedical engineering to space exploration. 

In addition to the support provided by CUA’s Office of Disability Support Services, the recent graduate says the small class size and close interaction with professors have helped him succeed. 

“When needed, professors are easily reached and always make themselves available to assist, thus providing a team environment in which students can excel,” he says. 

In particular, Vermillion singled out Binh Tran, associate professor and chair of biomedical engineering, and other members of the biomedical engineering faculty, saying they were helpful and “challenged students to achieve their potential.” 



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