This past Spring, Jasmine Maddox, a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, was named one of two recipients of the 2019 Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) Scholarship. The AHEAD Scholarship is a national recognition of a student’s disability activism on campus as well as his or her academic achievement.
Pam Schwartz, director of the Learning Support Center, encouraged Maddox to apply for the scholarship. Initially feeling as though she did not deserve such a recognition, Maddox did not apply until the day before the deadline.
“I came to a point in my life where I accepted the fact that I am doing work,” said Maddox, “I think we get to a point where we are doing a lot, but we don’t think we’re doing enough.”
When singer-songwriter, Kehlani, attempted suicide during Maddox’s senior year of high school, she realized that disability advocacy was a strong passion of hers. This incident made her see that people all around her are affected by disabilities. After that, she became interested in the effect of disability and mental health in education.
Although Maddox had a difficult start to her freshman year of college, she managed to find a support system on campus through faculty and staff. Their constant reinforcement brought her to where she is today as an education policy major who is actively involved on campus.
Maddox has attended multiple conferences and worked as a special education assistant for elementary school students. She is currently working on a directed study based on access to education in third world countries.
Maddox also works as a member of Student Senate and a coach for students on academic probation, allowing her to be well-connected with other students on campus. She wants to help those doing work similar to her own receive the recognition they deserve for their hard work in disability advocacy.
“It is important that I acknowledge the work that people did before me and the work people are going to do after me,” said Maddox. “Right now my goal is to make sure that people know about the voices who are currently talking but aren’t getting a space.”
Since receiving the scholarship, she has noticed that more students are willing to come up to her and ask about disability problems on campus.
“I’m just here as a support system. I am not an expert,” said Maddox, “I consider myself as somebody who has absorbed other people’s experiences and who has absorbed my own experiences.”
The scholarship, Maddox said, gave her a space to have open conversations about prominent social issues, such as the lack of disabled and diverse faculty on campus.
“This [recognition] is not just for me. I think it’s for Albion College. Albion College is just starting the conversation about disability and diversity. It’s the representation of everyone around us, even though we may not have had open dialogue and see the problems,” said Maddox. “We’re working to fix them.”
CORRECTION. This article, originally published Sept. 13, has been corrected Sept. 16 as follows
- Certain language in the article has been corrected to reflect more appropriate and sensitive racial terminology.
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