This is a guest post from Junior Rutgers University Student and NTAR Leadership Center Intern Radhiya Abdul-Raheem
In this academic school year, I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’ll admit that being the youngest in my family I’ve gotten used to having my hand extended, waiting for my wants and needs to be handed to me. I could not help it. Thankfully, I wasn’t spoiled to the extent where I wouldn’t reach the point in my life where I am today.
This school year has brought a relentless characteristic out of me, the quality of leadership. From experience, I’ve learned that possessing the quality of leadership leaves me no room to be spoon-fed. I have taken on new responsibilities since the start of the fall semester. After seeing a friend of mine struggle to keep a student-run publication afloat as editor-and-chief, I decided to extend my position as photographer of the newspaper to co-editor and treasurer. I did this mostly because I hated to witness a paper with such a rich history fall below the radar. I also was faced with a dilemma on campus involving the transportation bus system. Without getting into great detail, I was put in the position where the revised bus route was hindering my wheelchair access to the bus stop across the street from my on campus apartment. I, once again, took the courage to actually project my concerns, something I usually would leave for others to do for me. After making my rights and concerns known to administrators and after getting my peers involved, I got want I wanted, which was equal access to the campus bus that is meant for the use of all Rutgers students. After reaping the fruits of my labor, I felt proud and I felt visible. For those who have been overlooked know very well how that was victorious for me. These accomplishments come at the eve of another stepping stone.
I was interested in interning at NTAR because it is dedicated to increasing the self-reliance of persons with disabilities. I was intrigued at the fact that I can take part in the self-reliance of others such as myself who may find it hard to be truly independent in an imperfect society that is not fully prepared for them. Having this position has allowed me to further exercise the leader inside of me that I have suppressed for so long (and it continues to be a work in progress). My leadership has taught me not to be afraid to make sure my voice is heard. Fittingly, this is the focus of NTAR’s mission.
Before my time at NTAR is concluded I hope to gain a ruthless drive for bettering the lives of people with disabilities.