Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

A collection of stories from individuals with disabilities, families, friends, and disability service providers in Tennessee



Bud (24), Other, Williamson County


"The thing Next Steps has helped me the most with is help me to realize that I have far more potential than I thought I did in terms of finding a job. "

  • A Self-advocate's Perspective
  • Posted on 8/01/2013

I was born Charles Jacob Sugg III, but I’m called Bud mainly because everyone thinks that that name fits me. When I was three-years-old, it was discovered that I had a speech delay. It’s a condition that makes you not talk at all. You don’t stutter, or babble, or talk at all. From when I was 3-years-old until I was about 12, I took speech classes. Ever since I got out, I haven’t had to take a single speech class.

I went to high school. For three or more years I had a GPA of 3.0 or higher. I was a relatively popular man in school, popular enough to have my own newspaper article written about me. Overall, I was great person in high school. While in high school, I was the equipment manager of the football team and the men’s & women’s basketball teams. I think that’s what made me a popular figure. I was able to hang out with more friends and make more friends. I was able to do work instead of just not doing anything at all.

After high school, I went to Columbia State and only lasted one semester. I left in the spring because it was too tough. From then on, I kept working. I worked at Williamson County Parks & Recreation and my local Sonic Drive-In. I did this until Fall 2012 when I started Next Steps at Vanderbilt. I wanted to get back to experiencing life on a college campus. I was so anxious to get back into the flow of things in college after high school.

My dad and I did a lot of research, and through the guidance of a family friend, we found out about Next Steps. We all thought it was a perfect place for me. I had to take a bunch of tests, and after passing, I was accepted. During my tour of Vanderbilt, I toured with Tammy Day, Will McMillan, and Matt Moore. It made me realize that Vanderbilt is a great campus and I was really astonished at how nice it was. Before, I wasn’t sure what it would be like. But after the tour, I definitely saw myself going to Vanderbilt.

The thing Next Steps has helped me the most with is help me to realize that I have far more potential than I thought I did in terms of finding a job. Last year, my internship was with the Divinity Library. I liked it so much that I still consider it a possibility for a job one day. I have also interned at the Vanderbilt Hustler at Student Media. I do radio podcasts, which is awesome! I love it because it’s one of those things that helped me realize a lifelong dream that I’ve had for awhile. I get to practice some of the requirements for radio broadcasting such as interviewing. People have always told me that I have a great voice for radio. But it takes a lot more than just having a great voice. You have to ask good questions, be a good interviewer, pronounce words correctly, and be a good marketer. I’m able to learn about these things at my internship. I hope one day to be a radio broadcaster.

Next Steps has also taught me new skills. Last semester, I learned how to make pancakes. I think it’s a valuable skill. A lot of people love pancakes! The idea behind Food Foray is a wonderful idea. If there’s anything I want to do in life, after I’m married, I don’t want my wife to be the primary cook. I want to help her. Learning how to cook will help me go farther in life as far as marriage goes so that I can be a better husband. Until then, I think I could get a job helping to cook at a restaurant. 

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