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five to six hours of homework every night,” he says. “College was a breeze after Stanton. It was on par with law school. But it really prepared me for what was ahead.” Bates earned two bachelor’s degrees


from Florida State University in three years and was awarded a scholar- ship to the university’s law school. After completing law school in two and a half years in December 2003, he set his sights on a position as a prosecutor. An internship at the state attorney’s office at Tallahassee led to a promised job offer after graduation. But his dream job was stymied when the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) rejected his application to continue the funding of his personal care attendant. Florida law at the time only provided personal attendants to those who sustained spinal cord injuries. Troughout his time in school, the Florida VR had provided him


with a personal care attendant to help him out of bed, dress, bathe, and get into his electric wheelchair. Although he confirmed with VR three months prior to completing his studies that he would get assistance for 18 months after graduation, the VR would later claim that there had been a misunderstanding. Without an attendant, Bates was forced to live with his parents, who had relocated to Tennessee. “I was trying to figure out what to


do,” says Bates, whose independence is vitally important to him. In the meantime, he found a job


with a law firm near his parents’ home. However, when his dad’s job moved to Alabama, he realized he couldn’t continue to move around with his parents and needed to return to Florida to pursue his career. Te irony was that he could receive ample assistance from the state for his condition if he didn’t work. But he


was an able and well-educated man who wanted to make his contribution. Reflecting on his father’s advice to pursue law as a career so that he could be independent, Bates took matters into his own hands. Bates had by then passed the


Florida Bar Exam and began his job search. He also began to lobby the state of Florida to expand its Florida Personal Care Attendant Program, which still provided attendants only to those who suffered spinal cord injuries. Tese efforts led to an agreement to provide him with an attendant for 18 months through the Able Trust, a foundation established by the Florida Legislature to pro- vide employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities. With this agreement in place, he was hired as a state attorney for the Fifth Circuit Judicial District, which covers five counties in central Florida. A month prior to beginning his employment in


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