What does Diversity, Equity and Inclusion mean to you?
I have struggled with mental, emotional, and physical disabilities all of my life. People like me want to be included and accepted for who we really are – we didn’t ask for these disabilities that so often define us. True inclusion is when we are accepted regardless of our disabilities.
How do you perceive your learned experiences will help others better understand your unique challenges?
I have high-functioning autism, anxiety, a color deficiency, and hearing loss. I have to ask people to help me when I can’t hear something, and when I can’t see certain colors. I have had to adapt and overcome obstacles in order to fit in and learn. Meeting new people and learning new routines require me to overcome anxiety, and so I try to empathize with others in social settings.
What, in your opinion, is PTC doing to create a more inclusive environment?
I personally feel that the instructors and staff at PTC are very encouraging, understanding, motivating, and willing to guide me in the right direction. They are always helpful when I am struggling with something, and will give me more time or more in-depth explanations when necessary. I believe that the more the faculty and staff at PTC understand about mental, emotional, and physical disabilities, and the more they’re exposed to, the more people like me will thrive at PTC.
Are you interested in participating in a focus group? If yes, why?
I would like to. I can give more information and insight about people with disabilities so others like me can be included and thrive.
What are some of the most important things you would like to see at PTC to better support you and others needing diversity services support?
All I really want is for the instructors and staff to have understanding about people with disabilities so we have the same amount of opportunities to succeed and thrive as everyone else. My instructors have been great, but I think more can be done to make sure that people like me are understood and not held back by our disabilities.
Is there someone at PTC who has significantly contributed to your success?
Mr. Moody, Mrs. Cerullo, Mr. Ankeny, and Mr. Orell have all significantly helped me and contributed to my success at PTC.
Who is your hero? Why?
My two heroes are my Grandfathers. They both served in the military and are great role models. They spent their whole lives serving their country, their city, and their families. They have taught me so many things about sacrifice and dedication.
Is there a quote that speaks to how you feel about diversity, equity and inclusion?
“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.” -Joker
This quote from the movie “Joker” really connects with me. People who don’t struggle with mental, physical, and emotional issues often judge too much. They’re not accepting of people who are different and who struggle with mental, physical, and emotional issues. We should be accepted and not have to fake and hide who we really are.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
People with disabilities aren’t always “disabled” — we want help when we really need it, but mostly we just want to fit in and feel normal. We don’t need to be monitored all the time. Just hear us and accept us for who we are; give us opportunities to thrive and watch it happen.