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Law student has racked up success despite disability

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    Monty Anderson: Blind since childhood, he has earned seven degrees in 15 years.

Monty Anderson always struggled in school, but that didn’t stop him from earning seven degrees in 15 years, including a master’s degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He is now working toward his law degree through the evening part-time program at the William S. Richardson School of Law.

The 40-year-old Honolulu resident made these accomplishments despite losing his sight in childhood.

"When I started using a cane in my mid-20s, it was like I was advertising to the world that I’m blind. I’m 6-foot-8, so I stick out anyway," he said. "I could imagine people saying, ‘Here comes the tall, blind guy.’ I was always afraid of embarrassing myself, stumbling on some stairs or getting in someone else’s way. I stayed in my dorm most of the time."

Anderson’s parents began to notice that something was wrong with his vision when he began kindergarten. He endured a battery of tests each year because he felt like "something was always poking my eye."

A field-of-vision exam confirmed their fears when Anderson was unable to see flashing lights. His vision continued to diminish from the periphery inward.

"When I was younger, it was like I was looking through a pipe or a doughnut," he explained. "I had enough vision to make eye contact with people and watch a little TV and comprehend what was on the screen."

Today, he can only perceive light.

Anderson doesn’t dwell on his loss. "It’s important to try to recognize what you do have and be grateful, rather than getting frustrated. If you stop trying to control things, you feel a whole lot better."

He added that meditation helps him to gain "the big-picture perspective and not get stuck on the little things."

Anderson’s love of learning began when he was introduced to talking books for the blind. He used textbooks on tapes, special equipment on his computer and recorded classroom lectures. "There’s always a period of adjustment when I’m trying something new," he said.

In addition to attending school, Anderson has been the host of a weekly three-hour KTUH radio show, "The Monster Show," since 2005. To do the job, he memorized the buttons on the mixing board. He had worked as a general manager for the station, but gave up the position to deal with the demands of law school. He also has an internship with the U.S. Navy as part of the Pearl Harbor legal team, and is trying to establish a no-kill shelter for cats and birds.

As a music lover, Anderson also taught himself how to play guitar and bass, and he intends to start taking piano lessons once he is employed full time.

Anderson attributes his wide-ranging successes to his faith and optimism.

"There were periods when I really wanted to give up. Going back to school gave me a choice to either hibernate in my bedroom for the rest of my life or maximize my opportunities. Options are limited for blind people. It’s very powerful for me to be making a living; contributing to society."


“Be Well” features inspiring stories of people dealing with health challenges. Reach Nancy Arcayna at or call 529-4808.

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