The DREAM Student Advisory Board
Board members meet online monthly through a method that is accessible for all members. You can email the entire board at DREAM@ahead.org or individual board members by clicking on the name in the title of each bio. Interested in becoming a member of DREAM? Contact us and we will send you more information.
Elijah Armstrong - Penn State University (PA)
Elijah Armstrong is an upperclassman majoring in Education and Public Policy at Penn State University. Elijah founded the student-led project Equal Opportunities for Students to foster self-advocacy and inform students, families, and community stakeholders of their education rights under federal law. He also publishes with the Education Post.
Elijah experiences seizures and sickness related to epilepsy. As a junior at a Jacksonville college prep school, he struggled with the lack of appropriate accommodations and bullying that caused him to develop strong self-advocacy skills and a desire to support other students with disabilities. Elijah has been recognized for his work as a guest at several White House events and interned this summer with U.S. Congressman Ed Perimutter (CO-07).
For fun, Elijah performs stand-up at comedy clubs and theatre roles. One of the most inspirational moments of his life was standing in the Rose Garden listening to President Barack Obama and the Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi discuss the importance of human rights and valuing every person.
Finn Gardiner - Brandeis University (MA)
Finn Gardiner is a Master of Public Policy student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is the Boston Community Coordinator for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, where he builds liaisons with local nonprofits and government agencies to advance disability rights, mobilizes disability activists to engage in community advocacy, and approaches policymakers to adopt laws that benefit the autism community and people with disabilities generally. During his year as the Barbara Wilensky Gopen Fellow with the Institute for Community Inclusion and Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, Finn developed a mentoring program for autistic adults to share their education, work, and other life experiences with their mentees.
Finn is also a member of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Disability Advisory Committee, where he meets with interested stakeholders to discuss salient issues regarding disability policy. In addition, he has presented on intersectional disability justice at the White House's LGBTQ Disability Forum, the United Nations’ Autism and Ageing Symposium, and the Autism National Committee's annual conference.
Ptahra Jeppe - Syracuse University (NY)
Ptahra Jeppe is in her second year at Syracuse University College of Law and is pursuing a Juris Doctorate and Master of Science in Cultural Foundations of Education with a Certificate of Advanced Study in Disability Studies.
In third grade, Ptahra was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. Thanks to a great family, great educators, assistive technology, multi-sensory education, and accommodations, she was able to navigate academia and the world beyond that. In fact, Ptahra was able to graduate high school with a New York State Regents Diploma. She then graduated magna cum laude along with other honors from Adelphi University and became program director at Everyone Reading (formerly New York Branch of the International Dyslexia Association). Ptahra then served as Chief of Staff for New York State Assembly member Jo Anne Simon before leaving to attend law school.
Ptahra is currently serving as a Board Member of Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring; President of Black Law Students Association; Vice-President of Disability Law Society; member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates Membership & Social and Racial Equity Committees; and member of the Churchill School Alumni Board. Upon graduation, Ptahra hopes to be able to continue to help individuals with disabilities and others in need.
Ann Wai-Yee Kwong - University of California, Santa Barbara
Ann Wai-Yee Kwong is a Ph.D. student at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California Santa Barbara. In 2015, she received her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Education from UC Berkeley as a Gates Millennium Scholar. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new recipes, shopping, and spending time with friends and family.
As a legally blind Braille reader who emigrated from Hong Kong, Ann felt that society had low expectations for her future. She was fortunate to have supportive parents, mentors, and the motivation to advocate for resources along her academic journey. As a result, she has interned with the Institute for Educational Leadership and the Department of Defense, testified to the U.S. Senate on behalf of college students with disabilities, and served on the California Department of Rehabilitation’s Blind Advisory Committee.
Ann's advocacy work catalyzed her passion to co-found Survive or Thrive, a support group and mentoring program, with other visually impaired peers. She also collaborated on a State Council for Developmental Disabilities grant to develop curriculum for transitioning to work. Through her research and advocacy, Ann hopes to continue empowering others to envision, define, and achieve their own future aspirations.
Megan Larson - University of California, Los Angeles
Megan is a proud Hufflepuff, and in her world she follows more dog Instagram accounts than people, wears socks and ‘stocks nearly every day, and hopes for mental health to be of great importance everywhere.
Currently, Megan serves as Fundraising Chair of the Student Advisory Committee at Active Minds. As Director of UCLA’s Active Minds chapter, Megan has created the Mind Your Mind mental health awareness coloring and activity book and developed FreEDom: Recovery is Possible for Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Megan also saw her idea of exposing students to different careers in mental health come to fruition in the event “Mental Health Networking Night,” which included an artist and representative from a nonprofit, neuroscientist, lawyer, clinical psychologist and researcher, life coach, and student advocate.
Megan is passionate about genetics and mental health, and she hopes to someday work in the field of mental health researching the neurogenetics of mental illness or as a social worker. When she’s not advocating for mental health awareness, you can find Megan practicing archery to defend her national title, knitting in her Stitch onesie, and speaking in the British accent she picked up while studying abroad.
Priya Penner - Syracuse University (NY)
Priya Penner is a sophomore at Syracuse University (SU) majoring in Political Science and Citizenship and Civic Engagement. In addition to her advocacy/activist efforts on campus and belonging to several different disability-focused student organizations, she is currently the President of the Disability Student Union (DSU), a student org that gives disabled students a space to socialize with each other.
Priya was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenital (AMC for short) in Coimbatore, India. At the age of 3 and a half, she was adopted by a disabled couple in Rochester, New York. Her mother taught her the foundations of disability dights and disability pride, and as a result, Priya got involved in ADAPT, locally and nationally, at the age of 14. In the summer of 2015, she, along with four other individuals, presented at the National Council on Independent Living’s Conference. These connections lead her to travel to Japan to speak to the Japanese Independent Living Movement about her role in the U.S. Independent Living/Disability Rights/Disability Justice Movement.
Moving forward, Priya hopes to continue her advocacy/activist efforts on the Syracuse University campus as well as within ADAPT, build DSU and strengthen the SU disability community, and go on to law school upon completion of her B.A.
Jesus Ramirez - Valencia College (FL)
Jesus Ramirez is a sophomore student at Valencia College working on a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree. A Leukemia diagnosis in 2008 at the age of eleven steered Jesus toward a career as an Anesthesiologist. When a patient is going through such stressful, frightening situations, they just want a bit of warmth and safety and to be aware that everything will get better. As a 8-year cancer survivor, nothing will stop Jesus from solving any problems to get where he wants to be. As Plato wrote, "The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile."
K Wheeler - University of Washington (WA)
K Wheeler is double majoring in Law, Societies, and Justice and Disability Studies in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program at the University of Washington. They are President (Headmaster) of the UW Harry Potter Club and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. K works as an office assistant for Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT), a transition program for students with disabilities from high school to college and college to careers.
K has won numerous medals and broken U.S. and world records as a Team USA Paralympic swimmer, including winning 4 golds at the 2015 CanAm Para Swimming Championships. While K has qualified to compete in the Paralympic Games, the lack of events for their classification prevented them from attending. K has since retired their swim cap to focus on their academic and career goals.
After graduation, K plans to attend law school and become a disability rights lawyer with a focus on policy. After working as a lawyer for a few years, K has plans to work their way up the political ladder with the hopes of one day being President of the United States. K has a passion for accessibility born through their personal experiences of being a congenital amputee and the experiences of people around them. One of their biggest passions is researching the connection between sexual assault and disability, which the topic of their honors thesis.
Anthony Workman - The Ohio State University (OH)
Anthony Workman is from a small town in Southern Ohio, Waverly to be exact. He is in his third year at The Ohio State University, majoring in Finance/ Pre-Law and minoring in Disability Studies.
Anthony has worked as an intern for a law firm in his hometown during summers and winter breaks for the past 2 years. He hopes to enter law school after graduation with intentions to specialize in elder law and disability rights / advocacy.
Anthony first became interested in disability when he mistakenly took an English course with a focus on Disability Studies, not realizing how much it would impact him. His youngest brother is deaf in his right ear and color blind, has ADD and low vision, and suffers from a heart condition. Anthony saw how poorly his brother’s IEP and other educational needs were handled at school and wanted to make a difference for people with disabilities. Anthony ended up taking another Disability Studies course, this time with Professor Margaret Price and learned of a way to make a difference and relate to others through the Disability Studies community. Anthony wants to see a change in the way we look at and treat disability in our society.
Megan Zahneis - Miami University (OH)
Megan Zahneis is in her third year at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio as a Stamps Leadership Scholar, majoring in journalism and interactive media studies with minors in disability studies and community-based leadership.
In addition to being active in campus media, Megan serves as the co-president of Miami University’s Students with Disabilities Advisory Council (SDAC), which was recognized as the university’s Outstanding New Student Organization of the Year in 2016-17. Among the initiatives Megan and SDAC have supported are a peer-to-peer mentoring program for students with disabilities and the creation of a model accessible classroom. Megan regularly shares her disability experience in class visits and on various culture and hiring committees at Miami.
Megan is also a member of the executive team at the Ohio Youth Leadership Forum (YLF), an annual four-day program that teaches high school students with disabilities leadership, advocacy and independent living skills. There, Megan assists in curriculum programming and communication as well as serving as a small-group counselor.
Born with a very rare neurological disorder that rendered her unable to feel pain, temperature and touch to the same degree as others do, Megan has also been diagnosed with several other chronic illnesses and is profoundly deaf. She uses bilateral cochlear implants.
Megan is passionate about sharing the stories of people living with disability and difference – including her own – and hopes to attend graduate school.
Kimberly Elmore - Texas Tech University (TX)
Kim Elmore is a doctoral candidate in Technical Communication and Rhetoric with a concentration in disability studies at Texas Tech University. In her dissertation "Negotiating Voice," she analyzes public dialogues about autism research to find how they could be more inclusive of autistic individuals. Recently she interviewed disabled college students about their struggles and successes transitioning to college for an upcoming co-authored book chapter, "What I Wish I Knew Then." Her essay on including autistic users in the user-centered design process, “Embracing Interdependence: Technology Developers, Autistic Users, and Technical Communicators,” appears in Rhetorical AccessAbility: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies (2013).
Kim’s passion is to help individuals from marginalized communities navigate and develop available resources to problem solve and achieve their goals. She used this passion as an executive officer of graduate student organizations at three universities, and was a co-founder of two. She has been a part of DREAM leadership for 5 years and currently works as the DREAM Coordinator at the National Center for College Students with Disabilities.
Kim identifies as Neurodivergent with chronic illnesses and an autistic parent. She supports cross-disability and cross-disciplinary activism and advocates for better learning, working, and living conditions for college students with disabilities.
Wendy Harbour - Director of the National Center for College Students with Disabilities