Shayla Gaither, a junior studying communications, public relations and advertising at Albright College is a high-achieving, wheelchair-bound student from an underserved community who never lets the world get in her way, and never fails to speak up for others on issues of inequality. One of the most active and vocal members of Albright’s high-profile Council for an Inclusive, Thriving and Equitable Community (CITE-C), Shayla has rolled on Capitol Hill to persuade politicians to pass acts supporting disability rights, and offered remarks at Philadelphia’s Widener Memorial School, encouraging students who are living with disabilities to "keep pushing forward." Shayla is the kind of student who will make a “forever” impact on both her college campus and the broader community.
When I walk down the street will I be judged for my disability? Will I be treated differently? Growing up, these questions inspired me to make change. Everyone should have the ability to maneuver down the sidewalks safely. Everyone should be able to access buildings with their colleagues. I advocate especially for the disabled because of societal misconceptions. Persons with disabilities have active lives. At school, I am on the board for CITE-C and the Student Advocacy Council. In the past two years, I orchestrated two disability related events to highlight the need for accessibility on campus. In my free-time, I volunteer at Abilities in Motion- a Center for Independent living for disabled community members. Since 2017, I have been on the board of my local chapter of United Spinal Association that spreads advocacy for the disability community. Overall, as a disabled African American woman, my primary focus is on breaking stereotypes and increasing accessibility. Persons with disabilities have active lives, African Americans are intelligent, and women are leaders. I intend to break negative stereotypes and continue to be a strong, intelligent, African-American woman, with a disability who will act as a catalyst for change.