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Staci Forrest

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The biggest challenge I faced when I was transitioning to adulthood was believing that I could be on my own and be independent despite my disabilities. I am partially sighted, have chronic illness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Once I started believing in my self everything fell into place.

The transition coordinator of my high school (Ms. Debbie Scott) was extremely helpful in the transition process. She introduced me to the world of self-advocacy, self-determination and leadership for young people with disabilities when I was a junior in high school. During that time I had the opportunity to travel to and speak at a variety of transition conferences and to really learn what self-advocacy is all about and how I could apply it to my life. I think that all of these experiences played a role in helping me become a successful young adult and a budding professional focusing on youth leadership for students with disabilities.

Since I left high school, I finished my undergraduate degree from Kutztown University in December 2014. I majored in Special Education/Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Elementary Education PK-4 with a minor in Women's & Gender Studies. In January 2015, I stated school at Wilmington University for my M.Ed. I also have the pleasure of working at the Parent Information Center of Delaware from February 2015-July 2015. I worked as their Youth Coordinator.

I moved to Baltimore, Maryland in August 2015 as I was hired to be a Teacher at the Maryland School for the Blind (MDB). I have been working at MSB ever since.  I am a Teacher and work in their multiple disabilities/blind program. All of my students have severe/profound multiple disabilities, including blindness and deaf-blindness.  I have been at the school for five years as a full-time teacher.

In January, I'll be graduating with my M.Ed. in Special Education, Instruction from Wilmington University. I will then be starting at CUNY School of Professional Studies pursing a degree in M.S. in Disability Studies in High Education.

I volunteer in the Child Life Program at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. I also participate in an adult hip-hop dance class at my local community center.

I am a member of several national advocacy organizations such as the National Council on Independent Living, AUCD, Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN), and TASH. In the next five years, I would like to work expand my role in disability advocacy; be working towards my Ph.D.; and be a foster mother to children with disabilities.

I live on my own in an apartment. I have lived in my apartment for about 5 years. I love having my own place, although it does come with lots of responsibilities!

I believe that it is important to follow your dreams and to remember that we all need a little help and assistance along the way.