Interviewed for the People Who Inspire Series on the N.A.H. Blog

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In early January, I was asked to be interviewed for the People Who Inspire Series on the Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian (N.A.H.) blog.  Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian is the brainchild of Relando Thompkins, MSW, a social justice worker who strives to build more equitable and inclusive communities, and increase intercultural understanding.  His weblog covers issues of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice, and creates rich dialogue that will effect positive social changes for all.
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I first became familiar with Relando and the amazing work he is spearheading through my connection with Social Work Helper.  Relando commented on a recent post on the Ramp Your Voice! blog, and I was elated to have his support.  Relando reached out to me a few days later, asking if I would be interested in being interviewed for his weblog.  I immediately agreed, and received the questions for the interview.  I sent Relando my responses, and on January 13th, 2014, the interview was published.

The People Who Inspire Series spotlights individuals who are striving to make a positive impact on the lives of those within their particular fields and/or interests.  The purpose of allowing these individuals to share their experiences and visions is to teach us about who they are, and hopefully influence us to tap into our own potential in making the world better than what it was when we came into it.  I was asked twelve self-reflecting questions that allowed me to share my unique background as a woman of color with a disability, why disability advocacy is so important to me, and my visions for Ramp Your Voice.  The questions were the perfect opportunity for me to display my passion for the work I am initiating, as well as provide an inside view of what I am working on in 2014.
The following are two responses from the interview that I wanted to highlight:

What are the parts of your work that you find most enjoyable?
The best part of my work as a Disability Rights Consultant, Writer, and Advocate is meeting other disability advocates.  When I receive validation from other advocates about my work, it builds my confidence even more. 
Receiving support from my fellow social workers uplifts me as well.  When social workers like yourself, Relando, reach out to me and allow me to share my story or give me wonderful words of encouragement, I know that the work I am doing is important to the profession.
Receiving that kind of respect and acceptable from your colleagues, especially when you are an one-woman show, drives my desire to educate social workers, regardless of whether they are macro or micro focused, about my work, and how they can become proactive advocates within their agencies, and their communities.


What/Who Inspires You?
My Grandmother inspires me greatly.  Her strong work ethic, treating people with respect, being resilient through life’s hardships, and the unconditional love she bestowed upon me from the moment she knew of my existence has had a tremendous impact on how I love those I know, and my determination to make my dreams come true. 
The humbling beginnings and incredible successes of Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Maya Angelou, and First Lady Michelle Obama also drives me to achieve my destiny.  Seeing these African American women break glass ceilings within their respective fields, and become respected by millions all around the world shows me that I can truly do anything that I put my mind to.  They are the role models I lean on as I travel on this disability rights and advocacy journey. 

To be interviewed by a fellow social worker was an incredible experience.  Not only did Relando interview me, he also nominated Ramp Your Voice! for the Liebster Award.  The Liebster Award seeks to discover and recognize new blogs.  Ramp Your Voice! was one of ten blogs Relando nominated in his article for this prestigious recognition.
If you would like to learn more about Relando, read his articles, and connect with him, please visit his website.
This is the second interview I was a part of in less than two months.  If anyone is willing to allow me to share my empowering story, connect with me by leaving a comment, or by sending an email to Vilissa@rampyourvoice.com.  The only way I can effect social and political change and uplift fellow disability advocates is by RAMPING my own voice!  
(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of Relando Thompkins, MSW)

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