Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

Lisa James (center), stands with her two children, Macy and Brett.  

When Lisa James and her team presented a device to help their professor’s father hug again, she had no idea it would be so well-received. The video of a man hugging his grandson for the first time in eight years went viral after Lisa’s Arkansas State University occupational therapy professor shared it on Facebook.

Lisa said she and her teammates cried when they saw the video.

“To see his reaction and how much it moved him to be able to do this small thing, it really taught me a lesson as a therapist that just because I don’t think it’s a big thing, doesn’t mean that it’s not a big thing,” she said.

More than 400 people worldwide have asked if they can purchase the HugAgain. Lisa and her classmates are in the process of setting up a business so they can sell the device that
wraps around a wrist, allowing the other arm to lift both arms over someone and give a hug.

Lisa, who has two children, decided to return to school after 28 years as a pharmacy technician. She began taking prerequisite classes online at ASU-Mountain Home, where a financial advisor told her about Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. Since 2019, the scholarship has helped her with tuition, books, and a move from Calico Rock to Jonesboro for school.

Lisa James of Izard County receives her single parent scholarship.

Lisa graduated in August with an Associate of Science degree, passed state boards, and is officially a certified occupational therapy assistant. She hopes to pursue low-vision certifications in the future. Her daughter, Macy, is blind and attends the University of Arkansas.

Like so many involved in ASPSF, Lisa aims to empower people to build a better future. 

“With Macy being in my life, I’ve been around a lot of people who are visually impaired and don’t even know what’s out there for them or that they can accomplish independence,” Lisa said. “I would love to be able to work with them to show them there’s so much that you can do on your own.”

To learn more about Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, go to aspsf.org.

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