Gabriel Ratcliffe ’22

Wearing a blue polo shirt and standing with his arms crossed, Gabriel Ratcliffe smiles at the camera
“Who am I / I’m a walking renaissance testing how far he can explore different realms / The ever-evolving entity, full of discovery, training his lips to bend into a paintbrush that slaps colors on canvases in ways none could foresee…” 
-Gabriel Ratcliffe, Who Am I (2020)

Before college, Gabriel Ratcliffe ’22 would have been described as shy. It seems unlikely, especially if you have ever watched him perform his poetry; his confidence and eloquence radiate from within.

As a first-year student, Ratcliffe revived the Rhythm and Poetry (RAP) club, where he now leads as the president. Because of his efforts with RAP, Ratcliffe was honored with the Office of Student Life’s 2019 Emerging Student Leader Award. And in the past year, he has donated two Black Lives Matter protest poems to the Hanover College Duggan Library Archives.

“Through poetry, I can clearly express thoughts and stories I always wish to express in a normal setting. I’m extremely meticulous about how much weight my words hold, constantly hoping that whoever listens will cherish those words in their heart.”

Wearing a blue polo shirt, Gabriel Ratcliffe looks to the right

Hailing from Indianapolis, Ind., Ratcliffe studies biology, creative writing and Spanish. He has been consistently honored on the Dean’s List. This summer, Ratcliffe will conduct virtual research in biology with the University of Chicago through their Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. As well, he is an active leader on Hanover’s campus, serving as a Benjamin Templeton Scholar, the public relations chair for the Black Student Union, secretary of Looking Back Moving Forward, a Student Senate representative, first trombone in the Concert Band, and an editorial board member for Kennings Magazine.

You may also be surprised to know that at age 16, Ratcliffe was diagnosed with a learning disability.

“Although it doesn’t have a name, it manifests in the form of a slower thought process. It often affects the speed at which I can read, communicate verbally, and retain information. It’s also harder for me to think on my feet and speak spontaneously. Since my disability is both invisible and nameless, it’s easy for me to forget it until I’m frustrated upon learning at a slower pace than my peers and wondering how it can affect my life beyond Hanover. Sometimes, I doubt I can adequately contribute to conversations. However, I pray and keep reminding myself that my mind is as valuable as one belonging to a notoriously gregarious person. That’s what I often try to stress in both my writing and my speech. It’s one of my personal goals to ensure no one feels inferior in a social setting,” explains Ratcliffe.

Through the Gladish Center for Teaching and Learning (GLC) and the Accessibility Services Office, Ratcliffe was able to access extended time for tests and Read&Write software, which helps users with reading digital documents, researching assignments, and proofing written work. The Accessibility Services Office is dedicated to working with all students with a documented disability.

“Ensuring that a student or employee is not defined by their disability is always an attitude Hanover College must maintain. I feel valued when my professors, for example, are flexible in their availability and supply me with tools for the greatest success,“ says Ratcliffe.


During Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (March), we seek to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all facets of the Hanover community.