Disabled Irish American scholar fundraising for dream degree in London
Anastasia Somoza fundraising so she can hire an aide for the duration of her studies
For most people the dream is getting to college, but for Irish American Anastasia Somoza it’s not getting there that is the issue -- it’s the accessibility that’s needed once she arrives.
After being accepted to the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) to pursue her master’s degree in human rights, the New Yorker is fundraising so she can hire an aide for the duration of her studies.
“I feel strongly that my disability should not be the reason why I am not able to attend a fabulous university abroad,” she told the Irish Voice over a recent phone interview from her home.
Anastasia and her twin sister Alba were born with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia.
“Most people have low expectations for individuals like myself and my sister,” reflects Anastasia. “We are not typically seen as people who can grow up and contribute to society.”
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A well known advocate and consultant for people with disabilities, the twins’ mother Mary Somoza, who was born in Dublin, has been fighting for the rights of her disabled daughters for decades.
The determined Irish mother became dedicated to ensuring that her daughters received the same educational opportunities as others. Since the girls were at a young age in public school, Mary has fought for her two girls to attend regular classes and be exposed to the same opportunities as their counterparts.
“How many kids with severe disabilities get this chance of education?” Mary points out.
At 27 years of age, Anastasia has already graduated with a degree from Georgetown University. The smart and ambitious young woman tells the Irish Voice about how excited she is to get back to London to pursue her post-graduate education.
Anastasia uses a motorized wheelchair to get around and depends on an aide to help her throughout the day. Through a Medicaid waiver, Anastasia was able to bring her aide with her while she studied for her degree in DC.
Since graduation in 2007, she has been unable to find work. But instead has focused her energy on an internship with the Clinton Foundation. Anastasia and her family befriended the Clinton family in 1993 after she appeared at a nationally televised forum hosted by then-President Clinton, and asked him why her sister Alba wasn’t allowed in a regular classroom.
The appearance touched off an avalanche of publicity for the Somozas and advocates of rights for the disabled, and a lifelong friendship as well. Anastasia has served as an intern for Hillary Clinton while she was in the Senate, and the families have kept in regular contact.
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One of the greatest men to ever walk the earth and a shining symbol against all forms of supremacism. Of course, most british patriotards consider hi