Let me share with you that using a wheelchair for my self-sufficiency has not been easy. From a young age, I learned to overcome very powerful adversity in my life. At age of two, I was diagnosed with poliomyelitis (polio) in Mexico City. The polio paralyzed my body from the neck down. After 4 years of surgeries, physical therapy, and training, half of my body reestablished, but my legs did not respond, leaving me dependent on braces, crutches, and finally in a wheelchair.
Despite of my physical limitations, I did not allow my disability to affect my life, especially my education and career goals. While searching diligently for education and opportunities, I was a member of a wheelchair team from Mexico City winning several gold, silver, and bronze medals representing (DF – Distrito Federal). I was also a member of the Mexican National Team. I represented Mexico in the Para-Olympics on wheelchairs in Canada and in Puerto Rico.
In 1989, at age of 25, I immigrated to the U.S. and over the last 25 years, I had the satisfaction of working, as an employee and or as volunteer, with many social services organizations. During my training and work, I spent my free time outreaching to various communities through local TV news, newspapers, and workshops aimed at helping disadvantaged people become aware of their options. My involvement with the local community made a positive impact in my life; I became an advocate and an activist for the Latino community, people with disabilities, and women from all occupations.
I contributed from translating small brochures, participating in a telephone conference with a president of the U.S. regarding opportunities for people with disabilities, to providing an international training to domestic violence shelters in Mexico. In 1999, I received an award as the Beloved Woman of the Nations, for my work to end domestic violence, and in 2006, a radio station broadcasted my name as an Orgullo Hispano, recognizing my efforts and accomplishments assisting people with disabilities, women, and the Hispanic community. I am an advocate for people.
In June 20, 2015, I graduated with a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with a Specialization in Curriculum and Instruction (EdD/CI) where I presented an autoethnography as my dissertation methodology. The purpose of my study was to explore why some people with multiple cultures might turn into cultural chameleons to fit in or to adjust to a different culture. I explored my cultural experiences compared to the academic literature on disability, gender, and ethnicity. I used the qualitative analytic autoethnography inquiry, the Labovian life story interview, and photovoice, and the intersectionality, multiple cultural identities, and social categorization theories as combined framework. I shared my cultural experiences, hoping readers could understand the reasons some people with multiple cultures might turn into cultural chameleons to fit in or to adjust to a different culture.