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Three women with disabilities

Training for Female College Students with Disabilities and Their Allies

Date: Saturday, April 6, 2019
Time: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Guttman Community College (Google Maps)
50 West 40th Street, Room 401
New York, NY 10018

Are you a female college student with a disability or an ally to one?  Are you ready to learn new skills to advocate for yourself and others? Are you interested in becoming a more effective leader in your community? Do you want to make New York City a better place for yourself, your loved ones and the next generation? Then join us as we advance the empowerment of female college students with disabilities, bringing the lens of inclusion and equality to NYC’s civic life.


Rebecca Gross, Self-Advocate
Brilynn Rakes, Student and AT&T Spotlight Performer on Dancing With The Stars
Crystal M. Vazquez, Associate Director, Office of AcccessABILITY, Guttman Community College

Rebecca Gross headshotRebecca Gross was first diagnosed with a variety of learning disabilities, at the age of eight, and transferred to several different mainstream day schools before eventually ending up in a specialized school for learning disabilities, where she remained through the end of high school.  She then transferred back into mainstream education and, with the help of appropriate accommodations, graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2017 with a BA in Liberal Arts concentrating in Theater, Disability Studies, and Education. She was one of the leaders of the Sarah Lawrence Disability Alliance (SLCDA) an organization focusing on addressing issues of disability rights and accessibility on campus and in the surrounding community.  In this role, she led weekly meetings giving students with disabilities a platform to support one and other and planned events and publications aimed at highlighting the perspective of disabled students and disability rights in general for the wider student body.  As a leader of this organization she also acted as a student representative on the administration’s Ad Hoc Accessibility Committee and contributed ideas and research to the architectural design team for a new student center which is set to be completed later in 2019.

Currently, Rebecca is working as a tutor for students with disabilities, teaching general study skills, homework help, and a variety of specific subjects.  She is also the Art Specialist for a Sunday social skills program for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.   She has recently begun working towards a Master’s Degree in Disability Studies from the CUNY School of Professional Studies and is pursuing a career in disability advocacy.  She is passionate about providing students with disabilities with practical self-advocacy skills so that that they can find success in their desired field.

Brilynn Rakes headshotBrilynn Rakes is originally from Visalia, California. She completed a dual-degree program in New York City at Fordham University earning both a BA in Communications and Media Studies and a BFA in Dance from the Ailey/Fordham Dance Program. In addition to performing in various concerts in California and NYC, she also competed in the New York City Finals of the Youth American Grand Prix in 2012 and 2013. In addition, Rakes was featured as the AT&T Spotlight Performer on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars where she performed alongside Emmy-nominated dancer and choreographer Derek Hough. Currently, Rakes is working toward a degree in Business Administration and resides in Rhode Island with her fiancé.

Crystal M. Vazquez headshotCrystal M. Vazquez is the Associate Director of AccessABILITY Services and Women’s Resources Services Specialist at Stella and Charles Guttman Community College. She has extensive equal access and leadership experience in higher education. Ms. Vazquez holds a master’s degree in public administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her work focuses specifically on equal access, developing diversity and social justice focused programs specifically around college success and supporting young adults through their educational journey.

Register today – space is limited!

Rolling admissions.

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Learn more about the series:

Can’t attend in-person? Register for the webinar:

Webinar Start Time: 1:15 p.m. ET / 12:15 p.m. CT / 11:15 a.m. MT / 10:15 a.m. PT

Meet the Author

Debbie Fink
Debbie Fink

Debbie Fink is Director of Community Outreach and Impact for RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. She brings more than 15 years of diverse leadership experience in public health, education and arts programming to serve RespectAbility’s mission. Fink has a lifetime commitment to enabling people with disabilities to have a better future and is passionate about the constructive impact volunteers can make in the world. To reach her, email

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