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From swimmer to graduate

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Roy Perkins
Perkins is pictured at the Paralympic trials in Charlotte, N.C., where he qualified for the Rio Paralympic Games. (Photo courtesy of Roy Perkins)

Roy Perkins

BS ‘19
Earth Systems Program

June 12, 2019

Roy Perkins, BS ’19, has taken home medals from three different Paralympic Games. Now it’s time for his next big achievement: receiving his diploma. After 12 years of juggling competitive swimming that started in high school and lasted through his time as a student at Stanford, Perkins will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Earth systems.

“I’ve accomplished what I need to as a swimmer, but I still learn from the experience,” said Perkins, who was born without hands and feet. “Just having a long-term goal and a long-term process has helped me to get through school.”

While at Stanford, Perkins focused on the relationship between human activity and the environment. His capstone project explored how poor air quality resulting from 2018 wildfires affected California’s homeless populations. “It was important to me to study things that looked at the connection between science and humanity. One of my favorite classes was an environmental law course where we learned about policy and federal statutes. It brought new perspectives to the content I was learning as an Earth Systems student.” Post-graduation, Roy is considering taking the LSAT and hopes to put his training to use as a lawyer.

Perkins may be finished with swimming and his studies at Stanford, but he knows he’ll carry the lessons he learned with him. “I’ve been conditioned to slough through a long process to reach its end. In that way, swimming prepared me to be a student, and being a student has prepared me to go onto my next steps.”