Jay Ruckelshaus founded Ramp Less Traveled in May 2013 after finishing his first year of college. Jay knows firsthand the difficulty in planning for college life in a wheelchair, having sustained a C4/5 spinal cord injury in July 2011 – just weeks before he was set to start at Duke University. He and his parents spent months brainstorming and laying plans for his entrance to school the following year while Jay completed rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. They quickly found the process overwhelming and struggled to imagine how a normal college experience could be possible following Jay’s injury – even with the generous help of numerous friends and administrators at Duke. Yet through serious dedication to the trial and error process, Jay was able to achieve his goal of going to college in the fall of 2012. Jay just recently graduated, having flourished in the challenging yet nurturing environment that college provides. He’s moving to England to study for a Master’s in Political Theory at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
Jay started Ramp Less Traveled to spread the message that college is indeed attainable for students with spinal cord injuries. He hopes to leverage the knowledge that he and his family gained through their journey from Shepherd to Duke. Just as important as the academic learning that takes place at college, the social environment and opportunity to make new friends and build self-confidence make attending college a key to success post injury. The foundation’s combination of financial support and mentorship opportunities uniquely positions it to help individuals overcome the burdens that come with the planning process. Thanks to his generous supporters, donors, and friends, Jay hopes to extend the Ramp’s mission of hope to many more students with spinal cord injuries in the years to come.