Michael Hingson 2013

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Michael Hingson, survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, interacted with members of the ECU Honors College during his visit to campus. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


Terrorist attack survivor shares experiences at ECU

Oct. 25, 2013

By Jamitress Bowden
ECU News Services

A survivor of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, Michael Hingson, told East Carolina University students Wednesday how much he appreciates effective collaboration.

"If there is one lesson to take from 9/11, it is that teamwork is extremely important, " said Hingson, a blind man who, along with his guide dog Roselle, escaped Tower One of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
Hingson speaks at ECU while his guard dog takes full advantage of the down time.

He shared that experience throughout the day with students, faculty and staff members and expressed the importance of teamwork and an inclusive environment for everyone. Hingson said he has been building teams and working with teams since he was 14 years old.

"I've used the same principles in building teams with guide dogs, building teams working as a sales manager, working as a president of a company and just functioning in everyday life," he said.

Hingson was born blind, but raised by parents who encouraged him to succeed. Doctors advised his parents to place him in a home, because they said blind children would disrupt a family and would not amount to anything.

"My dad had an eighth grade education and my mom graduated high school," Hingson said. But they disagreed with the doctors and said, "You're wrong; he can do anything he wants."

ECU student Janice Raines, chair of initiatives with the Student Activities Board, chose to bring Hingson to campus as a speaker after she heard him speak at a conference. "His story is just so powerful," said Raines.

Hingson said making it out of the World Trade Center is no more amazing that anyone else's survival story. The real story is how he got into the building, he said, as "a blind boy growing up, believing in himself, being taught by his parents to believe in himself and going out in the world and succeeding."

Hingson told how he, his guide dog Roselle and others who were in his office safely escaped Tower One in one hour, primarily due to the teamwork that took place that morning. He spoke about a group of firefighters who stopped to check on his group as they made their way down the World Trade Center stairwell. The firefighters continued to go upward in the opposite direction of Hingson, some never to leave the building.

ECU student Emily Moss attended Hingson's presentation. Her father was one of many firefighters heading up the stairs, and he also survived. Hingson's story was touching, she said, because it made her realize that average people can be heroes, too, when they rise to the occasion.

"After hearing him speak I realized that I could be an effective leader, too," she said.

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