March 5, 2018 | Faces Of FREE

Hello, my name is Diane.

I have experienced significant losses and challenges throughout my life. I have severe scoliosis that is very painful. I underwent corrective surgery and had a difficult recovery. I also suffered from depression. I skipped school, fought with my parents, especially my mom, failed at several different group home living situations and really needed to turn my life around.

In 2013, I moved to my third group home. I received community and home alone time and was finally allowed to take, and sign for my medications independently. I switched day programs, and I started learning how to find and keep a job.

I learned how to advocate for myself by going to the 2015 Self Advocacy and Disability Awareness Conference and listening to the keynote speaker, Marilyn Tucci. When I moved to my fourth group home, I advocated that I wanted to learn how to cook my own meals and cut food with sharp knives. Today, I live in my first apartment.

I always knew that I wanted to attend college. When I began attending a day program at Fancy FREE, I met Letty, the staff person who really changed my life. Letty encouraged and supported me with re-applying to Suffolk Community College (SCC). She helped me through my entrance exams (reading and math). I got the highest score on the math efficiency SCC has seen. I started attending college in September 2016. I have taken two courses so far, achieving “A”s in each. I recently switched my major to math. I love math!

I have overcome many obstacles in my life. My goals are learning to cook, getting a job as a junior high school or high school math teacher, tutoring peers who struggle with math, and learning how to appropriately socialize and advocate for my rights and the rights of others.