A triplet born with arthrogryposis – a condition where the muscles in her legs never formed – University of Montevallo graduating senior Hope Hodges said she’s never let her disability, or anything else, hold her back from living life to its fullest.
The 22-year-old Helena native who is known around campus for her red Volkswagen decked out like a racing kart from the popular Nintendo Wii game, Mario Kart, graduates magna cum laude Saturday with a bachelor’s degree in computer informatics and minors in game studies and design and business.
She said her time at the University was wonderful because of the people and relationships she made.
“I love this campus,” she said. “I love the kindness and compassion this campus has. I’m wheelchair bound because of my disability, and Disability Support Services has made sure that I’ve been well accommodated.”
Long before applying to Montevallo, Hodges knew UM was where she belonged.
Nearly all her teachers were UM graduates and, in her opinion, were fantastic educators. That was enough to point her in Montevallo’s direction.
“I saw the campus growing up as a kid and my teachers would talk about how great it was,” she said. “All my teachers were wonderful, and I was like, ‘these people are amazing so this must be a really good school.’”
What cemented the deal for her is that everyone on her campus tour was kind, the campus is handicap accessible and UM has a game studies and design minor.
“I always knew what I wanted to major in, and Montevallo had it with a game studies minor,” she said.
Hodges’ love of video games started when she was 8. Her parents bought her and her two triplet brothers a Wii with Mario Kart. From there, her interest in video games soared.
While other kids were getting into sports or other physical activities, video games became her outlet.
“It’s a good way to let off steam and have fun. I really love games and can express myself with them.”
Though she still loves Mario Kart, her favorite game currently is Far Cry 6 for Xbox One.
Besides being a serious gamer during her undergraduate years, Hodges has been active in her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, and in Catholic Campus Ministries. She said she couldn’t ask for better sorority sisters and being able to connect to people on campus with the same religious beliefs as her has been critical to her wellbeing.
She’s also worked as a resident assistant at New Hall since her sophomore year, an experience she said taught her good time management and helped her meet new people.
But her favorite experience at UM has been College Night. She said she’s loved the pep rallies and every event involved in it.
“At most schools it’s about competing against other schools, but at Montevallo’s College Night it’s about competing with each other, which is the same thing for me as competing with my brothers growing up. I was Gold Side until my junior year and switched to Purple Side to see what their perspective was like.”
After graduating, Hodges will remain at Montevallo as an MBA student. Once she finishes her MBA she hopes to work in project management and lead game projects at Ubisoft. Her dream is to help create the next Assassin’s Creed game, which is her favorite video game franchise.