Where Dale Gresson's story begins is not that unusual. Where his life has taken him since is extraordinary.
Gresson attended South High School in Columbus. Born with a right hand that has only a thumb and index finger, the deformity left Gresson with low self-esteem. While he never considered himself to be disabled, he believed people saw him in that light.
"In high school, I did only enough to get by, to be eligible for athletics, and to graduate on time," Gresson says. "I felt this way because I did not think I would ever attend college. Once I decided to enroll at Columbus State Community College, my life changed. I began my academic career at Columbus State in 1989, at the time I was a 19-year-old student who did not know what he wanted in life, let alone, what he wanted out of academics."
"I have to believe that because of my affiliation to Columbus State, my life has been enhanced and I have experienced consistent success in academia and life."
Even then, it wasn't always easy. When taking a history class from Prof. Denise Riley, he received a D. He begged for a higher grade, but she held firm.
"This taught me a valuable lesson, in that I have to work hard for everything and that success was not something that was given, nor to be taken for granted. I took the course over and successfully passed," Gresson says.
After launching his education at Columbus State, Gresson transformed from a person uninterested in education to one who, at age 44, continues to strive in the classroom. After earning his associate degree in sport management from Columbus State in 1997, he went on to earn his bachelor's degree from Wilberforce University and an MBA from Tiffin University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in psychology at The University of the Rockies.
Gresson became an adjunct instructor at Columbus State and a karate instructor at Ernie Reyes World Martial Arts. His department chair, Dr. Tom Habegger, tapped him to start a series of martial arts courses and teach sport management courses.
Gresson also worked with Columbus State's TRiO program, which is aimed at low-income and first-generation college students, before accepting a position at Urbana University as an assistant professor of sport studies in 2008.
In addition to his family and spirituality, Gresson says Columbus State has been a constant positive presence in his adult life.
"I have to believe that because of my affiliation to Columbus State, my life has been enhanced and I have experienced consistent success in academia and life. Columbus State and its employees are a family."