Texas A&M Couple Overcomes Obstacles, Thrives On Road To Graduation

Scott and Hillary Oswald posing with Alika, Hillary's guide dog

Texas A&M University Marketing and Communications photo/Mark Guerrero
Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: May 09, 2018

Hillary and Scott Oswald met in first grade at Pebble Creek Elementary School in College Station and married last December.  They have not only overcome obstacles but also excelled while pursuing their undergraduate degrees at Texas A&M University.

Hillary, who is legally blind as a result of retinis pigmentosa (RP), a rare, degenerative eye disorder, will graduate with a degree in education, and Scott, who started a successful business while a full-time student, will graduate with a degree in agricultural economics.

Doctors diagnosed Hillary with RP while she was in middle school. Her first symptom was night blindness, but hers was not the stereotypical case. Most people who have the inherited disorder also experience tunnel vision. At that time, Hillary still had a normal field of vision.

“Although losing her sight was and is a devastating blow, she has chosen to be a victor not a victim, an overcomer, not a powerless person,” said Connie Wood ’92, friend and neighbor who provided the Oswalds with pre-marital counseling with her husband, retired Methodist pastor Dr. Bruce Wood ’73. “She chooses to trust that God has a good plan and purpose for her life.”

Tests conducted by a leading retina specialist in Boston projected that she would go entirely blind between ages 50 and 60. However, studies are underway that show promise for stopping the progression of RP in pigs and potentially reversing the condition.

“I can see close up but not far away, so I can see faces, but they are fuzzy, so everyone has a good complexion,” she laughed. “And I have trouble with contrast, so I can see black ink on paper, but I can’t see red ink or pencil.”

Hillary Forges Ahead at Full Speed

Currently, with corrective lenses, Hillary’s vision is 20/100, but that is not stopping her from living a fulfilling life by anyone’s standards. In high school, when she could not see the white volleyball under the fluorescent lights in the gymnasium, she began running cross-country and track.

You can read more about Hillary and Scott in the story originally posted on Texas A&M Today.