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MA in Disability Studies
Class of 2015
What is the best piece of advice, or most important thing you learned at CUNY SPS?
Academia can be FUN! I faced a lot of difficulties and ableism in my undergrad program, so it was so refreshing when I got to CUNY SPS and I enjoyed myself. I was fascinated by everything I was learning, I talked in class (a bit too much, sometimes…oops!), and I laughed a lot with my classmates and professors. It didn’t feel like work a lot of the time. For my Disability and Embodiment class (shout out to Devva Kasnitz!), I wrote my final paper on how mobility aids and other non-flesh objects become viewed as part of the body, and I cited Star Trek and Doctor Who. Where else could you get to write a paper like that…and get academic credit for it???
Who influenced you the most? Please feel free to include anyone from the CUNY SPS community including faculty, staff, or fellow classmates.
Everybody! Though I really have to give a shout-out to Dr. Mariette Bates because without her the Disability Studies department would not exist the way it does. I was lucky enough to have her for my very first class in the program, and the minute she started teaching I knew I was going to love this program. She’s a wonderful woman who believed in me from day one.
How has your CUNY SPS influenced your current job and career overall?
I always knew I wanted to work in the disability field. The Disability Studies program at CUNY SPS solidified that desire for me and gave me more of a formal background. I work for the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled as their advocacy coordinator, so the things I learned in the program are very relevant to what I do. I still have all my course materials from every class I took and it’s really useful to pull them out and refer to them sometimes.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Seeing how policy really changes people’s lives in a concrete way. We get caught up in the jargon and the legalese of it all sometimes, but I get to write things and talk to legislators about how these policies will affect disabled people – for better or worse – living in New York today. It’s not just theoretical. And I really love reading policy and then translating it for a wider audience so that people are informed.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’d like to run a center for independent living (CIL) or other nonprofit organization that involves disability. I have a dream of starting my own nonprofit self-advocacy organization for people with cerebral palsy – there’s nothing out there right now that’s not primarily run by parents or professionals.
OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
- What show/s are you currently watching? I’m making my way through the behemoth that is ER at the moment. There are a lot of seasons, so I’ve got plenty of watching ahead of me.
- What is your favorite meal? Anything that includes dessert!
- What is your favorite line in a movie? This is a little bit of a cheat, since it’s a musical that was turned into a movie, but from the song “Take Me Or Leave Me” from RENT: “Ever since puberty, everybody stares at me, boys, girls, I can’t help it, baby.” Though the song was talking about something different, I relate to it as a visibly disabled person – everybody stares at me!
- Favorite or most recent book you read? You’re asking me to pick just ONE??? I’m re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series for a comfort read right now, I’m on Anne of Windy Poplars right now. In terms of new reads, I have to give a shout-out to my friend Lillie Lainoff’s book One for All. It’s a feminist retelling of The Three Musketeers featuring the main character with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). It’s achingly authentic, since Lillie has POTS herself, and it’s also just a really good read all around with some incredibly vibrant characters.
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, none, all? All of them. Though I’m most partial to Facebook and Twitter.
- List 3 things you would bring to a deserted island. My phone or an e-reader (gotta have my books!), my cat, and an iPod loaded with Taylor Swift’s entire discography.