LEBANON, Maine - Ryan Menter of Lebanon has been fighting his whole life, and when he gets his law degree he wants to fight for those who have little voice, as a Guardian ad litem for children trapped in abusive situations.
Ryan, 18, blinded in infancy due to a pediatric brain tumor, said he was inspired to the field because of all the support he had going through challenges associated with his lifelong battles with blindness and cancer, while children suffering from abuse at home have little voice.
|Ryan Menter is assisted off the stage by Dennis Green, SNHU director of disability services after receiving his diploma on Saturday at the SNHU campus in Manchester. (Courtesy/SNHU)|
"I was very blessed when I had all of my challenges - chemo at two, chemo at eight and chemo again at 17 on top of the challenges of blindness," he said. "But I had a really great support system, a really supportive family and great teachers that were there for me, but for a lot of individuals they don't have that."
Ryan graduated from Southern New Hampshire University last weekend
summa cum laude
|GETTING A BOOST - Ryan Menter is hoisted up onto the shoulders of a SNHU soccer team member after they won the NCAA Division II title in 2013. (Courtesy/SNHU)|
with a bachelor's degree in justice studies. He graduated from Noble High in June 2021 summa cum laude as well.
Ryan said that as a Guardian ad litem, a court-appointed guardian who watches over the interests of a minor during a court case, "I will be that voice for those children."
SNHU has been a centerpiece of Ryan's life since 2009 when the then five-year-old was adopted by the SNHU men's soccer team through Team IMPACT and the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, according to SNHU Communications Manager Melanie Drolet.
In 2012, the team rallied around Ryan as he faced his second battle with a brain tumor. His
|A young Ryan Menter gets some love from his SNHU soccer brothers. (Courtesy/SNHU)|
resiliency, strength and courage inspired the hashtag #fightlikeryan, which became the team's battle cry. In 2013 the team captured the NCAA Division II National Championship, with Ryan and his family in the stands cheering them on.
Ryan, who was in remission again until April, recently began another round of chemotherapy.
"He continues to be an inspiration to the SNHU community," Drolet said.
Ryan says the inspiration works both ways.
"My soccer brothers are a key to my success," he said. "The connection is strong; I keep in touch with them."
His connection to SNHU is strong, too.
"The team I have helping me at SNHU makes sure I have adaptive materials, like a talking graphic calculator," he said. "They make sure I have books that have the braille. They've been great"
Ryan's success at SNHU follow four years of high marks at Noble High School in North Berwick.
According to school's list of top students in June 2021, Ryan was a member of Mensa, a Horatio Alger National Scholar Winner and a two-time National History Day Maine bronze medal winner and three-time National Braille Challenge finalist.
Ryan hopes to attend law school next year and continue his pursuit of a law career helping those that are most vulnerable.
With his perseverance and positive attitude, it's no wonder #fightlikeryan is his hashtag.