Finding Her Voice

Before taking Visiting Assistant Professor Janelle Hinchley’s Disability Justice class, sociology major Bella Brinkman ’23 “had always felt a stigma around my stutter. I did not identify as having a disability and felt a lot of shame around my struggles. The class allowed me to feel empowered in myself and find my voice.” Bella began talking about her experiences and overcoming that shame. That grew into a real passion for disability rights and justice. Soon she was taking a leading role in planning and implementing Disability Awareness Week at CSB and SJU – organizing events, hosting renowned activists … and speaking publicly before large groups.

“My drive toward creating a more inclusive world is quite simple,” she says. “I know what it feels like to have something you cannot control interfere with your daily life. We have a long way to go both on our campuses and in our society as a whole to be more inclusive. Ableism is deeply embedded in our culture and is not something that will change overnight. My hope is that with more programming, education and lifting up people with disabilities, we can create a world where everyone is comfortable and able to show up as they are.”