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Madison Essig, Communications Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

Madison Essig smiling headshot

Madison Essig

Madison Essig is a Communications Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2022. RespectAbility is a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Born in New York City, Essig now lives in Washington, DC. She was the first person with Down syndrome to graduate with a full diploma from the District of Columbia Public School system. She then spent two years in George Mason University’s (GMU) LIFE program before applying for admission as a degree-seeking student. Essig will graduate from George Mason University in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in integrative studies with a concentration in social justice and human rights. She is an active member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Campus Democrats, and Hillel.

At GMU, Essig advocated for a change to the Panhellenic rules to allow George Mason LIFE students to join a sorority. She also spearheaded a legislative change to the GMU Student Body Constitution to allow Mason LIFE students and other non-matriculated students to vote in student body elections and run for office. In 2015, she spoke at the White House’s IDEA 40th Anniversary Celebration about the importance of inclusive education and her personal achievements and received a standing ovation.

As a person with Down syndrome, Essig has dealt with disability issues her whole life. She has fought to be included in school and to be valued for who she is. She applied for the National Leadership Program to learn more about how she can be a part of the effort to fight against the stigmas and stereotypes of people with disabilities.

Essig hopes to be a television reporter to report on disability issues or to have a job on Capitol Hill where she can advocate for disability issues. She wants to be involved in organizations that are breaking down the stereotypes that people with Down syndrome face in school, in the workplace and in their communities.

Essig enjoys country music, movies, and spending time with her friends and family. She loves watching cooking shows and Law & Order. She is afraid of heights, big dogs, and very turbulent airplane flights.

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RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact [email protected] for more information.

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Meet the Author

Madison Essig

Madison Essig hopes to report on disability issues or to have a job on Capitol Hill where she can advocate for disability issues. She was the first person with Down syndrome to graduate with a full diploma from the District of Columbia Public School system.

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