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JACKSON, Miss. – When he was 10 weeks old, Spencer Kirkpatrick — an ACCESS student at Mississippi State University —  had open heart surgery at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Then, some of Spencer’s teachers told his father — Kevan Kirkpatrick — that it would be hard for him to learn because he was born with Down syndrome, a chromosomal condition that can affect cognitive ability, physical growth and development.

“He has always adapted with his challenges,” Kevan said. “We’ve also been fortunate to be surrounded by people that adapt with him.”

Spencer’s ability to not only…



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