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Professions: Latinx and Disability Advocate

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Sarah Vazquez

Sarah Helena Vazquez is a national motivational speaker, author and disabilities advocate. Vazquez is a true believer that everyone can pave their own life’s path. While growing up in the inner city of Newark, New Jersey, Vazquez was constantly reminded that the world considered her “different” because of her experience with a disability. She could have easily ended up living a life stifled by low achievements. However, with the confidence she gained from her mother raising her, and the high expectations of her teachers, she paved her own life’s road.

During Vazquez’s freshmen year of high school, her Resource Room teacher introduced her to the art of writing. She discovered that writing allowed her to express the way she felt about the world. After graduation, Vazquez went on to earn a bachelor’ degree from Rutgers University where she double majored in English and Psychology; and a Masters in Disability Studies from the City University of New York. In 2001, Vazquez began working with the New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of Special Education. She helped organize and present at the Dare to Dream Youth Leadership Conference for thousands of students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP).

Vazquez has also presented at the Council for Exceptional Children’s International Teachers’ Convention, and the staff at Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf. She was one of three advocates brought to Washington, DC by the Office of Special Education Projects to present during the national celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In 2011, Vazquez also self-published an autobiography titled “Paved Roads” which details her early life’s journey. Additionally, she is the host of the podcast “The Human Experience Disability” on Anchor.

She also currently works for a non-profit organization, Neighbours Inc., which helps adults who experience disabilities find community-based supports so they can enjoy the benefits of self-directing their lives. Whether she is giving advice to transitioning youth, facilitating workshops about self-advocacy, or challenging an audience of educators to adopt more inclusive ideas and practices; Vazquez’s message expresses a commitment to high expectations and her unwavering belief that people who experience disabilities are a vital part of the fabric of society.

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