Ashleigh Nightengale

Featured Presenter

As a biracial female with cerebral palsy, enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities has always been a priority for me. At a very young age, I was hired to join projects that focused on the improved mobility of people like me. I developed a drive to succeed and was determined to subvert the stereotype of a person with cerebral palsy.  I wanted people with mobility struggles to feel the same way I do, to see their ability and situation as an asset, not a deficit. This idea became the focus of my future goals.
While I received my Bachelor’s Degree in History at Roosevelt University, I became a Peer Health Navigator as a part of a disability research study with The University of Illinois at Chicago. I saw how the healthcare system is not equipped to care for people with disabilities. People with physical or cognitive limitations need more support and are not getting it. I returned to school and received my Master’s Degree in Social Work, determined to find a way to help people with limitations receive more support from the healthcare system. This fact solidified my desire to receive a second Master’s Degree in Grant Writing Management and Program Evaluation. If I could write a grant that can support a program to help individuals with special needs to be more independent, it would help them gain a better quality of life. These two educational experiences allowed me the knowledge to examine social service programs used by people with unique needs.