Advocating for others and herself

“I met with every disabilities department of the schools I was looking at. ŷպƵ seemed most receptive. There was a willingness to work with me in meaningful ways.”

Bryn Healy knew well before her acceptance to ŷպƵ that to get the college experience where she’d be most supported, she was going to need to advocate for herself. That’s why, during her first visit to campus, she didn’t just talk to current students, meet with professors and gawk at the beauty of the campus. She also requested a meeting with Disabilities Services to understand the support available if she chose to attend the College.

“I met with every disabilities department of the schools I was looking at. Of all of them, ŷպƵ seemed most receptive to the accommodations I had in high school,” Healy said. “As we talked through different scenarios, there was a willingness to work with me in meaningful ways. The staff also had a great deal of knowledge about neurodivergence and were light-years ahead of my high school, so I felt comfortable moving forward.”

Healy isn’t just interested in advocating for her own needs and accommodations. She’s passionate about political advocacy, especially for marginalized groups and disability justice. These interests are what led her to major in politics and sociology with a Nexus in Law, Public Policy and Human Rights. While she’d spent time in high school studying politics on a deeper level via mock trial and AP History classes, sociology was a new discipline for her. In fact, she didn’t enroll in her first sociology class until her parents encouraged her to give it a try and consider how it might intersect with her love of politics.

“I would have been missing something if I only studied politics as planned because I’d only be focused on the what and not the why,” she said. “To examine how society functions and why based on our biases, how we’re raised, etc., informs why policy is created and also why advocacy happens to rebut the policies or engage in them.”

Outside the classroom, Healy also found inspiration for her political advocacy endeavors through student organizations such as the ŷպƵ Democrats, the Neurodivergent Student Association and Mock Trial. Additionally, she studied abroad in the Netherlands in fall 2023 at the , where she participated in the politics, law and international relations in Europe program. While the coursework was interesting, it was the experience of encountering different cultural and societal norms that was most special. This experience allowed her to imagine the ways in which disability support could be better advocated for in the United States.

Her time abroad encouraged her to look at master’s programs abroad as well, which led her to apply to University College Dublin’s Masters of Science in Disability. She says it’s one of a handful of programs globally that doesn’t center its coursework on the medicalization of disability. She was accepted to the program in March and plans to accept and begin coursework in the fall of 2024.

In the long term, she plans to pursue a career in political advocacy or public policy focused on disability justice to ensure that public systems are more equitable and inclusive. She aims to push society to look at disabilities from a deeper, more holistic lens, including understanding how different disabilities present in different bodies and cultures so people can get the appropriate support they need.

“Disability justice is a very new field. Often, coursework on the topic and even research heavily centers [on] white, cismale patients and only discusses disabilities from a medicalized perspective,” Healy said. “It’s important that governmental policies don’t just look at disability like it’s an impairment when it’s a culture, it’s interdependence, and so much more. Currently, society and governmental policies are not listening to disabled voices and what we are saying is needed. I hope to be part of changing that.”

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Christian Feuerstein
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