Growing up, Ketrina always dreamed of becoming a teacher, but didn’t think it was possible because she uses a wheelchair and faces multiple barriers to accessibility that people with disabilities often encounter.

“To me, access means you have the right to every opportunity in life, whether it’s school, work, or friends. It’s not just making sure places have a ramp. It’s making sure you have the same access as nondisabled people.”

When Ketrina spoke with her high school guidance counselor about wanting to attend college, she was told it wasn’t possible because of her disability. She was informed that her only option was a non-academic day program. Ketrina didn’t believe this was true, so she enrolled herself in a two-year college and started working towards her goal. Due to lack of financial support and college counseling, Ketrina was unable to continue in the program.

Ketrina felt her dream was slipping away. She needed to get back on the college track and knew she needed some professional experience as well. Then she found INCLUDEnyc.

INCLUDEnyc worked with Ketrina to draft a résumé and online professional profile, and practice for job interviews. She soon secured a job at a nonprofit mentoring young people who wanted to become disability advocates. At the same time, her INCLUDEnyc youth educator also prepared Ketrina for the Miss Wheelchair NYC contest, which she won. In that role, she helps students with disabilities who are still in school develop self-advocacy skills.

Given her initial academic success, her INCLUDEnyc educator believed Ketrina could obtain a four-year college degree. Our educator worked with Ketrina to identify and apply to accessible colleges, so she could achieve her dream of becoming a special education teacher. Ketrina is currently a junior at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

“College is like entering a whole new world. My college is a place like home. The campus feels inclusive and like there is acceptance for all. I am closer to my goal of becoming a teacher than ever before.”