I was in my sixth-grade P.E. class when I went to get up from the ground. All of a sudden, I was unable to feel my legs. My vision became blurred and sound was faint. I was in shock. I was rushed to the hospital, where I was diagnosed with a spinal disease called transverse myelitis. Throughout junior high and high school, I was in a wheelchair. I then moved on to forearm crutches, and now I walk with canes.
I used to think my “old” life ended at the time of my diagnosis. But it turns out that was just the beginning of a new perspective on life, happiness, and disability.
I never really talked about my disability in junior high. Growing older, I found the right people, support systems, and ways to get involved in disability justice. I soon found my passion and purpose.
When I got to the University of San Diego in 2018—as a young, disabled, low-income woman of color and first-generation college student—I was eager to find community. I created a student group called the Alliance of Disability Advocates.
We push for greater accessibility on campus, such as elevators in buildings and American Sign Language interpreters. We also work to erase stigmas surrounding people with disabilities and to increase awareness of the ADA.
That law isn’t always enforced, so young people with disabilities need to know their rights and be their own advocates. We should never stop striving for more inclusivity and progress.