Haverhill Mother is Named National Fellow
Based on her role as a leader and advocate for persons with disabilities, Raquel Quezada of Haverhill, a Liberal Arts: Psychology major at Northern Essex Community College, has been selected as a Newman Civic Fellow by the Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education.
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Quezada is the mother of four children, including a 16-year old son with cerebral palsy. She has made it her mission to improve the lives of those living with disabilities.
“As a mother of a son with disabilities, I have realized how some people in our society do not have equitable opportunities. People with disabilities and their families have to constantly struggle to access their rights,” she says. “I faithfully believe that the way to help the world become aware of inclusion, rights, and opportunities is to talk more about these issues in the media, written press, and digital platforms. This will create more awareness, empathy, patience, education, love, knowledge, and above all, inclusion.”
Quezada is president of the Changing the World of People with Disabilities Foundation and produces a television and radio show with the same name.
She has written five books, one of which, “Breaking the Barriers of Disability”, shares the story of her son with suggestions for other parents with children with disabilities. “My intention is to inspire many to fight for their children and others in need,” she says.
In addition to her media work, Quezada advocates for special education rights at all levels of government from Haverhill City Hall to Capitol Hill. She is a member of the Massachusetts Developmental Disability Council, a member of the City of Haverhill Disability Commission, and a member of the Board of Disability Law Center.
The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who are change makers and public problem-solvers at Campus Compact member institutions. Fellows are nominated by their president or chancellor on the basis of their potential for public leadership.
Through the year-long fellowship, Campus Compact provides students with training and resources that nurture their assets and passions and help them develop strategies for social change. The yearlong program, named for Campus Compact founder Frank Newman, includes virtual learning opportunities and networking as part of a national network of engaged student leaders and an optional in-person convening.
In nominating Quezada for the fellowship, NECC President Lane Glenn wrote “Northern Essex faculty describe Raquel as proactive, empathetic, diligent, and engaged. She is a strong leader in the Merrimack Valley Latino community, assisting many families with navigating the school system and empowering them to advocate for their children’s disability rights…she is an excellent candidate for the Newman Civic Fellowship.”
Quezada plans to complete her associate degree in 2023.
The 2022 group of Newman Fellows includes 173 students from 38 states and Mexico.
Northern Essex Community College has campuses in both Haverhill and Lawrence. It offers approximately 60 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth. Each year, 6,000 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 2,000 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley. For more information, visit the website at www.necc.mass.edu or call 978-556-3700.