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Meet Elizabeth

College student. Aspiring teacher, Down Syndrome inspiration and advocate

Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a college student that aspires to be a preschool teacher.

What degree are you pursuing at your university? How did you choose?

I have always enjoyed working with young children, and having internships made it clearer to me that I would like to be a preschool assistant teacher or work with young children in some other way at a child development center.

What would your friends say is your best quality?

When I asked my instructor to write a recommendation for me a few months ago, he described me as an encourager. He said he had observed that I build other people up and see the best in situations. I like to be positive and to encourage people when they are sad or down. My friends say that I have done a lot for them.

How would you like to see opportunities for women with Down syndrome change in the near future?

I would like to see more young women with Down syndrome have opportunities for more education, college programs, jobs that are important to them and volunteer opportunities. Also, relationships that are meaningful to them, better health and nutrition and stronger faith. It is difficult for many people with Down syndrome to achieve physical and developmental goals. I would like to see more young women with Down syndrome achieving their goals.

Tell us about a time you have overcome nonsense in your life?

I have experienced much of what many people with Down syndrome experience in overcoming barriers and some barriers not common with Down syndrome. I have had open heart surgery twice, pacemaker surgery several times, dislocated kneecaps which slow down my mobility, scoliosis and other physical issues. In order to meet developmental goals, I had many years of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Despite many obstacles, I was able to attend the career center in high school, riding the bus independently to my high school and serving as an intern at an elementary school, preschool, and Head Start. I just completed my freshman year at university in the Beyond Academics program, where I lived in an apartment with two typically developing roommates, rode the bus to campus, met with a personal trainer twice a week and was involved in a Christian student group as well as other activities with typically developing students. There were people at both of my elementary schools who did not think I could handle the work, and yet I have been able to attend a college program. I even got to go back to my own elementary school for an internship my last two years of high school.

What empowering message do you want to share with all women?

I would encourage any woman, with or without a disability, to set goals and work hard to do the things she wants to do. It was my dream to go to college. And to live independently. I have already done both of those things, despite having developmental delays and physical obstacles. I would encourage all women to set goals and work hard to make their goals happen. Through high school, my college program and now my involvement through a Youth Leadership Forum, I have learned a lot about advocating for myself. I encourage all women to be their own self-advocate.