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Success Stories

Taylor's Photo

Taylor’s Story

Taylor is a fun-loving 18-year-old who participates in ROTC and a hip-hop choir. She especially enjoys her history and childcare classes in school, where she has made the honor roll in spite of her autism. She hopes to work in childcare once her education is complete.

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Amber Keohane's Photo

Amber Keohane’s Story

Amber Keohane, a graduate of Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, is currently employed at the DC Center for Independent Living. Amber was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age and grew up in Texas. Late last year she moved to Washington and accepted her current position as an advocate for people with disabilities.

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Jonathan Herring's Photo

Jonathan Herring’s Story | En Español

Jonathan Herring is active in the community and focuses on helping others, especially youth with disabilities. He lost his sight at age fourteen due to a brain tumor. Jonathan worked hard to regain the skills and self-reliance to return to DC public schools and earn his diploma.

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Mat McCollough's Photo

Mat McCollough’s Story | En Español

Mat McCollough, in his mid-thirties, is a graduate of James Madison University and has a master's degree in public administration from American University. After working for the federal government and in the nonprofit world, he is now the director of the DC Developmental Disabilities Council. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age two and given rehabilitation services from the start, he was mainstreamed in middle and high school. He was adept at academics but faced challenges in establishing his identity and a niche in the social community.

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Sterling Henry's Photo

Sterling Henry’s Story | En Español

Told by his mother, Karen Wills-Henry, with comments from Sterling Henry

Mr. Sterling Henry is a 2009 graduate of Cardozo High School in Washington, DC, where he finished in the top 10 percent of his class and was in the National Honor Society. His academic achievements are even more impressive because he has both dyslexia and dysgraphia, which make reading and writing a significant challenge. Mr. Henry's main interest is world history and he also enjoys classic literature, such as The Dogs of War and American Psycho. Mr. Henry is currently attending Landmark College in VT, which is is one of the only accredited colleges in the United States designed exclusively for students with dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), or other specific learning disabilities. Mr. Henry has a three-part recommendation for parents of kids with disabilities: 1) Help them. Tell them they are smart can achieve anything. 2) Read to them to give them education and culture. 3) Apply to RSA to get available technology and resources.

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Ahmad's Photo

Ahmad’s Story | En Español

Ahmad, now in his late twenties, was born blind. He is adept with computer technology and has both worked and volunteered helping people learn to use computers, especially screen-reading software. Recently, he has been working with Inclusion Research and SchoolTalk to develop this website. He attended public schools and graduated from the University of Maryland—College Park in 2004.

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Ryan King's Photo

Ryan King’s Story | En Español

Ryan King is a D.C. resident in his late twenties who has been challenged by a number of health issues and disabilities, including cerebral palsy, impaired language and cognitive functions, and sickle cell anemia. In spite of these challenges, Ryan successfully completed high school, has worked in the same job for over ten years, and has achieved an increasing level of independence. With a positive attitude and a great sense of humor, Ryan enjoys a range of interests and activities, including volunteer and advocacy work. In Ryan's family an important principle is "A person who says 'I'll try' has a chance to succeed, but a person who says 'I can't' is already a failure."

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Zarifa Roberson's Photo

Zarifa Roberson’s Story | En Español

Zarifa Roberson was born in 1979 in Philadelphia with a form of arthritis that affects the entire body, limiting mobility and self-care. Born with clubbed feet and hands, dislocated hips, and a locked jaw, Zarifa has had a series of operations and years of physical and occupational therapy. After graduating from high school in mainstreamed classes and earning bachelor's and master's degrees, she now works as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Washington, DC. In 2004 she founded a magazine called i.d.e.a.l., an acronym for "Individuals with Disabilities Express About Life," now published quarterly by the League for Disabilities, Inc., one of Baltimore's oldest nonprofits. Zarifa is also a motivational speaker. "We need people with disabilities to be in the forefront so our younger people will have an image to look up to. I didn't have that growing up. I knew strong African-American women, but they didn't represent me because they didn't have a disability."

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Elisha's Photo

Elisha’s Story | En Español

Schooling and socialization have created challenges for Elisha because of emotional and behavior disorders, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. With medication and support, he is now a well-spoken, outgoing 16-year-old with a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish. Elisha's strengths include his self-awareness about what he does well and what he has to take responsibility for in order to be successful. Elisha learned to speak up for himself to teachers and other adults and now he is active in speaking up for others with disabilities, too.

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