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Amanda Bellassai


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My name is Amanda Bellassai, and I am a junior at UMass Amherst. I am studying Sustainable Community Design so I can study architecture at UMA to get my bachelor's in science. My career goal is to be an architect and focus on designing for accessibility.


University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Sustainability Studies

Plymouth South High

High School
2021 - 2022


  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Architecture and Related Services, Other
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Architecture & Planning

    • Dream career goals:


    • Intern

      2024 – 2024
    • Ambassador

      Engineering Ambassador
      2023 – 2023
    • Social Media Colead

      Teens United
      2020 – Present4 years


    • Thespian


    Public services

    • Advocacy

      National MPS society — Advocate
      2019 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Teens United — colead
      2020 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Ronald McDonald house — Baking for guests
      2017 – 2020

    Future Interests




    Frank and Patty Skerl Educational Scholarship for the Physically Disabled
    As a lifelong member of the disabled community, I have a unique viewpoint. I am a little person. I view the world as someone who can not reach much without a stool or a ladder. I use a scooter for long distances so I am immediately aware of when there is no ramp or automatic door. I need an elevator when out with friends because of my scooter. I hate how the world was not designed for someone like me. I am studying architecture because I know it can be done. I spent most of my life growing up and pointing out accessibility barriers with the hopes of someone fixing them. I've heard the response " that'd be nice," or "not my department" too many times. Imagine a place where anyone and everyone could enjoy it. Whether it's a shopping center or an office building, it'd be nice if anyone could enjoy it. The ADA says that all new public spaces and renovations must be accessible. It sounds great but it's been thirty years since it was passed and some places are in no way accessible. They need to be held accountable. I am interning for a firm called and we do site visits to public places to ensure they are accessible. We then form a chart and say what's not accessible, why/what code it breaks, and how it can become accessible. As a new intern (started last month) I have done one visit and am working on the chart. One example of this would be if there's a public space on floor two but no elevator, the solution would be to add an elevator but until then to relocate the purpose of the room (conference, office, etc) until the elevator is ready. While I love what we do I am a bit worried about if the place takes out reports and follows them. Yes, they should but do they? I am looking at past reports and so far they have but growing up with a disability has left me skeptical. I want to use my experience as well as other's opinions to design spaces that are accessible. I believe that an accessible design will benefit everyone. Never has anyone with their hands full seen an automatic door and complained. Never has anyone with a cart or some form of wheels complained about a ramp. Anyone can use an automatic door but not everyone can push or pull while driving a wheelchair. Accessibility to me is ensuring the tallest and shortest person in the room have the same opportunities. As the shortest person in most rooms, I will do my best to make this a reality.
    Dwight "The Professor" Baldwin Scholarship
    My disability is genetic. It is called Morquio and is a type of dwarfism. As of now, I've had twelve different surgeries. I've grown up using a mobility device for long distances and ways being the shortest person in the room. I tried not to let it affect my future and the decision about a carer but then I realized it might be better if I go into a field to help those like me with disabilities. The word was not designed with accessibility in mind. I know that from personal experience. Either needing the elevator at school and/or just going out shopping with friends. I have had to do classes online at college either because the elevator doesn't work (why have only one per building baffles me) or because the handicapped door won't open. I was trapped in my college room because the door was made to be automatic but that requires a mechanical aspect to open it which makes the door heavier. I know how people shovel snow off stairs first when anyone can use a ramp. This got me thinking: why live my life complaining about inaccessibility when I could design for accessibility? I decided to switch my major to Interior Architecture for a year and then transfer to UMass Amherst where I can major in architecture. I am doing an internship at KMA this summer. KMA is a design consulting practice for architecture. I am proud to be working here because it is a great way for me to start getting experience in accessibility, not just pointing out the problems, but finding the solutions too. Last March I attended a Universal Design Symposium. It was great to meet others who are working for accessibility and it was fun to design for it. I was my group's user/expert. At first, when I was asked to be the user/expert I felt called out. I did not like the idea of being singled out because I'm disabled. I said yes because I realized that I would be singled out no matter where I was. This was a way for me to use it for good. My group and I designed for little people. we took my experience and created something to help people of short state. When designing for the disabled first, you help everyone. Never has anyone complained when they saw a ramp because it benefits everyone. I am going to design with this in mind. This scholarship would greatly benefit me in paying for school. So far in my college education I have taken out loans and applied for other scholarships. As a disabled woman who is going to school about two hours away from my home, I need to live on campus which raises the overall tuition so I am applying for all the aid I can get, I am hoping to graduate with very few loans so scholarships are the best way to go.
    A Man Helping Women Helping Women Scholarship
    My name is Amanda Bellassai. I am studying architecture. As a physically disabled woman, I have a unique perspective. I am a little person. I live in a world that wasn't designed with me or any disability in mind. A place where sidewalks are bumpy, ramps are out of pace and doors are not always automatic. I use a mobility device when I am out for long-distance walking. I am used to the stares as I go by but I refuse to get used to challenges that can be fixed. I want to design buildings with the disabled in mind. I saw a TedTalk by Elise Roy. She talked about how when you design something if you design for disabled users, we all benefit. An example of this was texting, it was first designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, now everyone has a cell phone and is constantly texting. Same with video chatting. It was created so people using sign language could communicate over long distances. That got me thinking. What if buildings were designed like this? What if I could design a college campus by thinking about how the sidewalks are for mobility device users, or how high or low a counter is? Are there stools nearby? I want to design thinking of not only a little person who would use this space but all disabilities. Another TedTalk that spoke to me was done by Sinead Burke. Her talk was about Why design should include everyone. She is a little person like me and talked about bathrooms. How everything is either too high (soap) or too low (handicap-accessible toilet). I completely agree with this TedTalk and seeing how it affects others made me feel less alone - that I am not the only one who struggles in public places. Public places should be fully accessible. From having automatic doors to elevators. Anyone should be able to enjoy the space as independently as they choose. I want to become the first little woman architect. Once I am an architect I will design inclusive spaces. I want to ensure that people don't feel left out due to having a disability. We have a right to go to the top floor or hang out outside if we choose. We shouldn't have to have class virtually because the elevator is broken. We shouldn't need help getting inside a building or getting from building to building. Accessibility to me is having the means to enjoy something as independently as they want. I want to ensure that becomes a reality.
    Wild Scholarship
    My name is Amanda Bellasssai. I am a college sophomore studying architecture. I am a disabled woman. As someone with short stature, I uniquely see the world. The world was not designed for a little person. I am studying architecture so that I can design accessible spaces for everyone. I am choosing to pursue an education in the arts because I know that accessibility for all is possible. I am done missing out. Done being left out or having to find an alternate way to be included. An education studying architecture gives me the chance to design spaces that everyone can use. I am studying art to find a solution that works and is both accessible and aesthetically pleasing. Architecture is the perfect balance of art and engineering for me. I am a creative person. I grew up reading and using my imagination. I grew up drawing and designing for fun. A year ago I was studying mechanical engineering but it didn't work for me. I decided to switch my major to interior architecture. I see something not designed with me in mind. I don't quit, I think how could it be improved. I am a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth which is not accessible. I chose the school for its location, so I could go home on the weekend for medical purposes which was a mistake. I use a mobility scooter and have had countless coffee spills because the sidewalks have cracks. I've had to do class virtually on Zoom due to the elevator not working. Automatic doors are either non-existent or broken at least once a week. I plan on using digital art to raise awareness of accessibility barriers and find solutions. For one of my foundation classes, we were tasked to design a public art proposal. My idea was to make a statue of a wheelchair in the town of Plymouth (my hometown) and write down any accessibility barriers and solutions. I believe the more we highlight these issues the more solutions we can come up with. I could try and redesign a space but there is a big chance something will get overlooked. If we truly want a fully accessible town, everyone needs to speak up. As a future architect, I still have a lot to learn. I am still a sophomore in college, but change can start today. I will design accessible buildings and spaces.
    Diverse Abilities Scholarship
    My dream job is working at an architecture firm. I want to work as an architect and design buildings that are accessible to everyone. Qualities that are important to me in a workplace are problem-solving, honesty, ethics, and willingness to learn. I want to work as a commercial architect. A company that agrees that most places need a redesign, one that is accessible. As a sophomore undergrad student, I have not looked at specific companies yet, but I know that I want a company that will admit they made mistakes. One that will say "Yes I designed this space this way but looking back I should have designed it another." Qualities that are important to me in a career are adaptability, dependability, creativity, reliability, positivity, and organization. A career as an architect is both my goal and a new start. As a college student, I have something to work forward to but I know once I get there I will adapt. Once I am an architect I don't want to be someone who designs buildings that are alike but one that adapts to the community and builds spaces that are all perfect for the location. A college campus should be accessible to those with a mobility device and challenging for athletes to enjoy. I want to design a place that the client will enjoy and the guests. My career search will be tough because I have a disability and I worry that I could be discriminated against for it, but also that people will only hire me to say they have disability representation. A company I'd like to work for will challenge me to think outside the box but also use my strengths. My disability - Morquio - is both a strength and a weakness. It allows me to have a different perspective and see things that are inaccessible and how they could be accessible but also limits what I can reach and carry. Using a mobility scooter for long distances has helped me with carrying bags. It helps except when the elevator is broken or the automatic door won't work. I am studying architecture so that I can ensure this never happens to anyone again. I think this will affect my career search since I will have to find companies that won't use Morquio as a hiring reason. I found a career as an architect necessary to fix the accessibility barriers and will do my best to study it with that in mind.
    “Stranger Things” Fanatic Scholarship
    Stranger Things is one of my favorite shows. I love to rewatch it and see how the characters interact and who works best with whom. As a Stranger Things fan, if I had to form a squad of three characters from Stranger Things to fight a supernatural threat I would have to choose Eleven, Dustin, and Steve. First I would have to choose Eleven. I would choose her because she is powerful and I think works well with her friends. El would never let her friends get hurt. El is incredibly loyal and would stop at nothing to make sure her friends are okay. In season four she went back to Papa to get her powers back. She hates Papa for what he did to her (rightfully so) and the other kids but she knows that to save Hawkins she would need her powers. I chose Dustin because he is smart. Dustin is constantly analyzing the situation and learning. He adapts well to any problem that gets thrown at him. He is loyal and hates when his friends are fighting but also knows that the fights will get solved. He approaches any problem with a clear head and always steps back to see what he knows and what they need to know like what he did with the magnets. I chose Steve because he and Dustin work well together. He might not be the smartest but when given a chance he is smart. He was the one to find where the Russians were, not by breaking the code but by listening to the music in the background. Steve is not as book-smart as Dustin but I think is has valuable skills that easily get overlooked. These three work well when they meet at the end of each season and put all the pieces of the "puzzle" they have together they become a powerful force. It would be interesting to see them work together from the start. Normally we see El work with Mike but I think she works best without focusing on her boyfriend all the time. She and Dustin are good friends and would work well together against Vecna or another supernatural evil. Steve and El haven't worked together as much and their mutual friend would be Dustin who both of them would fight for. Eleven is the most powerful, Dustin is the smartest, and Steve is the strongest
    Servant Ships Scholarship
    Most of the books I have read are fiction. I have learned about Greek gods, magic, mythology, and creating worlds. I have learned what it's like to be an outcast and to fit in. Reading to me is an escape from an inaccessible world. It is a chance to live not as disabled, but in thousands of other ways. I can be strong, smart, fearless - anything I want or don't want. The endless possibilities in books have taught me anything is possible, it's up to you to design the world you want to live in. I read about beautiful worlds and never how a character couldn't enter a building because it wasn't accessible. My name is Amanda Bellassai and I am twenty years old woman. I have a rare genetic disorder called Morquio and I have been living with it all my life. I have always been the shortest person in the room. I've felt left out and missed class for hospital visits. Nobody's ever made fun of me for being disabled but the world has reminded me. It has reminded me of being inaccessible. By having broken or not automatic doors, by having ramps out of place. When you see a set of stairs you should see a ramp nearby. It reminded me when I had to do class on Zoom simply because the elevator was broken. When I had to stay downstairs and watch as the professor brought her dogs to class but I had to watch on screen. It reminded me when my coffee spilled in my scooter basket because the sidewalk had cracks and bumps. When I had to use the back entrance of a building because either there was no ramp in front or that was the only automatic door. I read of a world where the villains and plot can be overcome by the protagonist. I am studying architecture because I want to design accessible places. I am the protagonist in my life and inaccessible buildings are the plot. I will succeed in life by having a career in architecture. So far in life, I've learned of the ways the world tries to knock me down but I've been brainstorming ways that will make the world accessible. Not just for me but for the thousands of others who have a disorder and feel left out for something simply for the way they were born.
    Frank and Patty Skerl Educational Scholarship for the Physically Disabled
    As someone who has a physical disability (Morquio), I see the world differently. My point of view is different - even though I wish to be treated the same - it's viewing the world as someone who is not what you'd call "average." I am a little person - someone with a short stature, I rely on a mobility device a lot due to mobility issues and I have hearing loss and wear glasses. I've always known I wanted to help people with disabilities feel included but not exactly how. Growing up using a wheelchair and a scooter there have been places I couldn't go and/or alternative options for doors. This made me wonder why. Why should I find a ramp in the back of a building when anyone can use one but not everyone can climb stairs? Why aren't all doors automatic when that would help everyone? I started going to college as a mechanical engineering major. I knew that the field of engineering would have many ways to create and as a creative person, I could help people feel included. At first, I was good at it. The science make sense and I was good at calc 1. Then came calc 2, I struggled and decided to rethink my major. After seeing campus on my own and not relying on friends and family I knew I liked being independent but that the world wasn't designed for someone like me to navigate easily. I started to think about architecture. During my first year on campus, I noticed lots of inaccessibilities that I knew could be improved, such as broken elevators, nonautomatic doors, and inaccessible classes and buildings. I told everyone and nothing happened. I filled out multiple facility requests and nothing happened. I realized that if I wanted change, I had to do it. I started researching architecture as a major and found that UMass Dartmouth offered Interior Architecture and Design as a major so I switched to that and kept my eye on other schools where I could learn more. I found UMass Amherst and hope to transfer there for the Fall of 2024. The problem with that is Morquio. I need a weekly enzyme replacement therapy that I need to get at my home in Plymouth MA. I still plan on applying and doing as many scholarships as I can, but will need to do more research on getting my infusion either on campus there or less often so I can go home for it every ten days as opposed to seven. I will graduate with a degree in Architecture and might go to grad school for it but I will have a career in it. I want to design accessible buildings. Ones that everyone can enjoy regardless of their health. I want to design college campuses that everyone can navigate, regardless of size, mobility, or health. Growing up with friends around the country who also have MPS has shown me that the world needs more accessibility. Accessibility to me means inclusive to all.
    Barbara Cain Literary Scholarship
    Books have been teaching me my whole life. I grew up reading whatever I could for both education and fun. I mostly read because when all my friends were doing sports or living their life I was in the hospital having surgery and dreaming of a better world. I love to read fantasy or sci-fi books that show that the protagonist is different but never let that stop him or her. One of my favorite books is Wonder by R J Palacio. It is the story of a boy who up until fifth grade was homeschooled because he has a medical condition that needed multiple surgeries. It showed him starting school and how it made me feel but also gave the other characters' point of view. I like reading books that I can relate to. Even though our disabilities are different and I wasn't homeschooled, I could relate to being different and still finding my way. Another book I grew up loving was the Percy Jackson series. While I could not relate to it, it still taught me things. I learned about friendship, believing and more importantly it was an escape. It was a magical world that I could easily get lost in. I love reading fantasy books because it is unlike reality and there's no mention of disabilities, disorders and anything that could hurt you that you can't fight. I like reading because you're in control of your life in these books. In the Percy Jackson series, Annabeth Chase wants to be an architect and looking back this could have been my first time reading about building your world. I like to read as an escape but I also like to relate to the characters and sadly because of my rare disorder Morquio, I can't always. There are only two published books that exist where a character has my disorder and one of them was written by my sister and the other one the character dies. This taught me about representation and how it's not always there. I once read that "If you don't think representation mattersyo're probably well represented" (Bernice King). This quote sticks with me now and likely always will. It has shaped my goal to be the representation. As much as I love reading and all it's taught me my goal is to represent. I want to be the "main character" and the person people want to be. Equality is in books and I want to bring it to reality.
    Johnna's Legacy Memorial Scholarship
    I have a genetic physical rare disorder that has affected my body all my life. A part of this disability is having short stature and in other words, having dwarfism. I try not to let it affect me but always being the shortest person in the room tends to cause other people to see me a certain way. I have been labeled as short and misinterpreted s less than others by ableists. Ableists are people who judged someone by the fact that they are different. I am short and need surgeries from time to time but I hate how others view me as less than them. It's been happening all my life. People have been either ignoring me because I'm different or talking to me because of it. I have always been singled out for it. I've missed class for hospital visits or gone to class and have needed an alternate activity so I don't feel left out. Has anyone thought to ask me if I can do something rather than assume I can't? I'm short but I can do whatever it is a tall person can, it may require a stool or an alternate way but I will still do it. I have loved music and theater since middle school and have always sung and danced with friends. Auditioning for school shows has always been a bit nerve-racking for me because whenever I get the part or don't I always wonder if it was my voice that got me there or my look. In my senior year of high school, we did the show Chicago. The show has lots of singing and dancing and I was looking forward to it. I made my audition and was extremely proud but one day after chorus the teacher pulled me aside and asked if there was anything he needs to change so I can participate. Nobody's ever asked me so I felt awkward but responded by telling him not to change a thing. I told him to choreograph the way he was going to and I would let him know if I couldn't do it. The show went well ad the only thing I asked for was a chair behind me so if I needed it, it was there, (I did not). Looking back I can see he did the right thing by asking but because nobody else has done that before, I felt out of place. The world is not accessible to everyone and I have seen firsthand all of the accessibility barriers. This is one of the main reasons I am studying architecture at UMass Dartmouth. I see countless barriers here and can think of many ideas to fix these. Rather a new design for the entire campus or simple ways to incorporate accessibility. I am done waiting for the world to be accessible to me and am ready to make it accessible for all. I do not like the term "disabled," that implies I cannot do something, I prefer disabled, same pronunciation but implies I can do something I just may need to try a different way.
    Mind, Body, & Soul Scholarship
    A healthy mind to me means staying focused and not falling behind. A healthy body is different for me since I was born with a physical disability but it is similar because it means working out and staying in shape. Being independent at college excites me the most. As a physically disabled woman I have had to rely on my family for a lot and even though they are still helping me, having an apartment on campus for five days a week helps me be independent. I love my family and am grateful for all their help but I sometimes worry about how much I have relied on them in the past and how much of a difference it will be when I move out and am on my own. Living on campus allows me to take control of my own life. I can use the campus gym and see my friends without needing to ask my parents for a ride since I do not have my license, (I have dwarfism and haven't had the time or money to adjust the car for me yet). I maintain a healthy body by going to the gym (I have a mobility scooter for long-distance walking but I can still walk) and working out. My friend on campus and I go twice a week and ensure that the other keeps up with the workout schedule we created. I maintain a healthy mind on campus by hanging out with friends and just being in my dorm alone and reading (reading is a hobby of mine) without feeling like I need to help out or I'm slacking off. I keep on with my schoolwork and prioritize my classes but I try and organized my schedule so I can enjoy myself. During my freshman year of college, I was a part of seven clubs and/or volunteer organizations. I attended the club meetings and events by staying organized and prioritizing my classes and the clubs that interested me most. As part of the honors college, I felt I had to be part of the honors council so I could take charge and help plan events. As someone who loves music and acting, I joined the theater program but only auditioned for the ensemble and smaller parts so I could both enjoy theater and not have to worry about falling behind on schoolwork, since that was my freshman year I do want to try the leads next year since I was able to see what I'd be a part of. I also joined clubs for my major (mechanical engineering) and to hang out with friends. I changed my major to Interior Architecture and Design over the summer so I am looking forward to joining more next semester. Maintaining a healthy mind, body, and soul in college is all about enjoying yourself and doing what you love to me. What excites me the most about college is finding those things that you enjoy and finding yourself at college.
    Will Johnson Scholarship
    My name is Amanda Bellassai and I have Morquio A. I have had twelve surgeries missed countless days of school for medical reasons and have always been the shortest person in the room. I use a mobility scooter for long-distance walking and this has not made navigating from class to class easy. Because of broken elevators teachers have needed to move their class downstairs for me. I never let my disability affect my work ethic and have done my best to get to class on time regardless of faulty elevators and broken or worse, inaccessible handicapped doors. Due to some of my surgeries, I had to be noon weight bearing for up to six weeks and while this complicated things (not being able to leave my scooter) I never fell behind in class. In high school because of the short block for getting to your next class, I had to leave class five to ten minutes early with a friend to help with doors and my bag. I let my teacher know about this in advance and so they adjusted their lessons so that I would miss time for an assignment or something I can catch up on at home. When I had to miss school for surgery I informed my teachers in advance and got the assignments early or had my sister pick up work. The longest time I missed was about a month during my freshman year of high school when I had a trachea repair. During my recovery, I caught up on all my schoolwork and even read ahead in some classes. That was high school and middle school, now in college thankfully I am in charge of my schedule and can ensure that I have enough time to get from class to class. The biggest issue is navigating campus on my scooter. I notice the cracks in the sidewalk, the heavy non-automatic doors, and the lack of ramps. For some classes, I have to get in touch with the accessibility office because the rooms are inaccessible to me. I want to graduate with a degree in architecture. I want to study design and find better ways to create accessible buildings and public places. As a sophomore who just switched her major to interior architecture and design (was mechanical engineering), I know more than most graduates do about accessibility and what should be vs what is. Accessibility means accessible for all and I plan to one day make that the truth.
    Book Lovers Scholarship
    If I picked one book for anyone to read it would be Wonder by RJ Palacio. I'd choose this because it is a book that got me hooked on reading in fifth grade. It's about a boy named August who has a disability but the book is not all about the disability - it never even says the name of it. It tells the story of Auggie starting middle school and shows how even by standing out because of his size and facial features that are different, it shows how he makes friends and navigates the school. In the book, you get multiple points of view. You see what Auggie thinks, what his friends and classmates think, and you hear from his family and it shows the reader that yes there are disabilities in the world but never treat people differently because of it. I chose this book because I can relate to it. I have a physical disability but I, like August, am still here and shouldn't be treated differently for reasons we cannot control. This book should be read by everyone not only because of the way it was written but because you get to experience the other points of view and see how similar they are. This book has been my favorite for a long time and I think everyone should read it (not just see the movie, the book is way better) at least once in their life. August Pullman is an inspiration and if you don't know why I reccomend reading to find out why.
    Jeannine Schroeder Women in Public Service Memorial Scholarship
    I am a member of the National MPS Society. We advocate for those with MPS or ML. I have MPS IVA which is a rare genetic disorder. The MPS society's goal is to cure, support and advocate for mucopolysaccharidosis and mucolipidosis. I have been a member for life but at age 16 I got to go with the group to Washington DC to advocate in front of Congress. I lived in Florida at the time and my sister Annie (who also has MPS), mom and I got to ask our state representatives and Georgia representatives including Ansley Rhyne, Miller Robinson, Zachary Emmanuel W. Sandoval, and Dan Ashworth for funding. We go to share our medical story and appeal using pathos to ask them to help fund the society so that we can raise awareness and fund for a cure and research. We also helped pass the Newborn Screening Act for MPS and ML. Another way that I am working to address an important social issue is I am studying to become an architect. I want to become an architect because I know the hardships faced when trying to access a building that is not accessible and know how to change that. I want to be a part of designing the first one hundred percent accessible building. A building with all automatic doors - not just in the back but in the front for everyone - a place with ramps and elevators - why are there only stairs in some places? Everyone can use a ramp but not everyone can use stairs. Outdoors in public places, where there's a sidewalk, there should be a timetable of where it needs to be recemented or flattened out, to ensure that over time when it gets ruined and there are cracks and/or bumps, that it won't bother people on mobile devices or anyone for that matter. The important social issue that I want to address is accessibility. I want to ensure that those like me, with a disability, have the means to go anywhere they'd like without asking for extra help so that we feel confident on our own. I believed that the more people that are aware of a disability the less we will feel outcasted, that we will do better if we can get in or out of buildings on our own and that if we have enough funding that one day, (hopefully) we won't feel socially outcasted and we will be cured.
    Carla M. Champagne Memorial Scholarship
    In high school, I volunteered for many organizations including the National Beta Club, Teens United and the National MPS Society. I also volunteered on my own at the Ronald McDonald House in Florida for "Baking buddies," where you go for an hour a week and bake treats for the guests. I did that about twelve or more times before Covid hit and decided to volunteer from home to stay safe. For the National Beta Club, I was a part of my High School's chapter in Florida (where I lived at the time) and helped by making cards to donate, donating food to the Ronald McDonald House (where I also baked for the guests on my own) and helped organized other events. It was in this club that I heard of Teens United which I then joined for the remaining time in high school. I helped with graphic designs for the social media, was in charge of the TU Twitter and help plan/organize events. Since I was a part of this group during Covid I helped online and attended all the meetings virtually. I helped spread awareness about Rare Disease Day and made posts for social media. After my first year in the group, I was able to e to co-leader of the social media team as well as join the other officers/leads and plan more. I was a part of the design team for their website and started to help with the planning of our college event. I did move the summer before my senior year in high school from Florida to Massachusetts so I tried to start a chapter in Massachusetts but since I graduated while working on it I'm not sure what happened to that since I had to leave the group. I am a volunteer for the National MPS Society. So far I have gone to advocate for funding for research for those like me with MPS or ML. In 2020, on the DC trip, we passed the Newborn Screening Act in most states which means that when a baby is born he or she can be tested for MPS or ML and hopefully start treatment early. To go on these trips you must be at least sixteen so I have only gone once so far due to them being moved online because of Covid but I plan on going again in October 2023 when they resume in person again.
    Career Search Scholarship
    In college, I am trying to study architecture. I want to study this so that one day in the future, for my career I can design and one day help make the world accessible for everyone. As a physically disabled woman, I see the accessibility barriers that can get easily overlooked by most. I want to design and inspire others to help make places completely accessible. I am currently a mechanical engineering student but I am in the process of changing my major to interior architecture and then hopefully going to study architecture more in-depth when I go to grad school. I first started noticing the accessibility barriers when I was out shopping. I noticed how the ramps were far away from the door and how unfair that is to wheelchair users like myself. I thought it was just that store and then continued in to see how close the aisle was and heavy the doors were. After trying to stay hopeful and just avoiding that place I started to see it in other buildings and even just outside. I then started to see it in universities and how accessibility has become something I'd have to research beforehand about a place rather than go for enjoyment as it should be. I want to make places accessible because I believe accessibility is needed and I don't seem to enjoy going out when I have to go out of my way to find a way in when I see everyone else just having fun. I think a career in architecture will bring me fulfillment because I could then become the change that I see is needed. As an architect, I would no longer be the person complaining to the professors or people who work there about how things are harder to navigate on a scooter rather I'd make them better and accessible and enjoyable as they should be. I have a rare disorder called MPS IVA and I can live with it. It's my problem and I can deal with being short. I can't deal with being left out simply because the door is too heavy or the ramps are in the back. Everyone can use an automatic door and ramp so why should I have to enter from the back? Sidewalks need to be smooth for wheelchairs users and other wheels devices run nicely and don't disturb the driver/user. It sounds so simple but many public places are not accessible and either need a new design or an updated one. I want to study architecture so I can make this a reality.
    Ruebenna Greenfield Flack Scholarship
    I am going to change my major and study architecture. I want to design buildings that are accessible. As a disabled woman, I know the barriers in a public place that others don't. I see the small cracks on the sidewalks and the heavy non-accessible doors. This needs to change. Accessible barriers can mean anything that prevents someone from doing what others can. This includes cracks in the sidewalk or path that interfere with scooters or wheelchairs, no ramps or ramps that seem out of place, doors that are not automatic or worse doors that are, but they are broken, broken elevators, basically anything that can be found at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and/or another inaccessible place that cause anyone to have to go out of their way to do something that should be a given (going into a building) that others can is an accessibility barrier. I not only see these barriers but I know how they can be changed for the better. According to the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) standards only one accessible route must be provided, but why one? If it's accessible, then anyone can use it. There should be two ramps for every staircase. Everyone can use a ramp but not everyone can climb stairs. All doors should be automatic, all sidewalks should be redone based on a timetable so that the cracks, bumps and other natural or manmade barriers can be redone. This would not only benefit accessibility-wise but also the place would increase in profit. Some say that it’d be too expensive to redo public places such as college campuses, malls, stores and/or landmarks. At first, yes, but in the long run now that place is bringing in more money and customers and can only help the place in the future. An example of this would be Target. The place was remodeled and now the aisles are bigger, and there are better ramps outside. That small step has brought in so many new customers and so much profit. I am going to study architecture so that one day all public places are accessible. So that one day nobody will have to email their professor saying they cannot go to class because the door broke or there is no elevator. The world needs to be accessible for all and if complaining about the accessibility barriers won't fix it then I will design a better way.
    Ward AEC Scholarship
    My name is Amanda Bellassai. I am a college freshman at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth majoring in mechanical engineering. I live in Plymouth Massachusetts but have traveled a lot throughout the country for medical reasons. I have chosen to major in engineering because I believe it is the right path to make the world a more accessible place. I have a unique perspective, not because of my disability but because I see things differently. I have had to learn how to navigate the inaccessible world from a young age and because of this am the right person to redesign places and make them accessible. I have a rare disorder called Morquio. I was diagnosed at age three and see things differently. As someone with dwarfism, I see how things can be made more accessible. I see the accessibility barriers. I want to change that. I want to be able to go shopping on my own. I use a mobility scooter and constantly have to find a back door so I can enter. The ADA is supposed to help make things accessible. There are laws in place but they are not very specific. Places have been getting away with creating barriers and then using money as an excuse. The ADA needs to do check-ins every few years. Places such as UMass Dartmouth may have been accessible in the past but over time the sidewalks began to crack. As a student who uses a mobility scooter, I noticed this and so much more. The ADA needs to hear the voices of those it exists to serve. I am a mechanical engineering major because I believe that I can help design a place that is 100% accessible. I was going to major in architecture but sadly my school (the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) does not offer it so after a bit of research I decided that by majoring in mechanical engineering I can help design better ramps, elevators, and doors and help design key components of the building. Another reason I choose engineering is that it's such a broad field. I can help with robots, space exploration, solar energy and so much more. I plan to use my background of advocating and public speaking to raise awareness for all of the accessibility barriers so that I can raise money and awareness so that one day there will be a completely accessible building and that will be the new normal.
    Future Leaders in Technology Scholarship - College Award
    I am studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. I chose this major because as a physically disabled woman, I see how inaccessible things are and want to change this. I use a mobility scooter to navigate my school and even though it makes things easier it doesn't help that the ramps are out of place and have cracks in the sidewalks. I want to improve the ramps by making them more accessible and in a good spot. I think to make places ADA accessible they need to be examined by someone with a disability. If they are then they are accessible - unlike if someone who works for the ADA says it's okay when he or she doesn't know any better. I want to design better mobility scooters. By going into engineering I will be learning more about the design process and can one day hopefully design a semi-autonomous mobility scooter. While the scooters made today help a considerable amount, I see room for improvement. What if it had better wheels that could drive on everything - snow, sand, roads, gravel - without the need to buy extra wheels and/or scooters? What if it could go up and down stairs eliminating the need for ramps? I've seen videos of wheelchairs that can do stairs but for thousands of dollars, money that is better spent on medical bills (if you need a mobility scooter you will likely have a medical bill). What if they were more affordable? What if everyone had access to one if needed? Questions like those fill my head and I hope that by going into mechanical engineering I can find the solution to those problems. By studying mechanical engineering, I will be able to learn about how things are made and about the design process. I am going to be learning about many different design processes and this field will open doors for me. I will graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering and with that degree, I can use it for numerous things. I plan on finding internships to do over the summer or during the school year and hope to find out exactly what field I want to go in before the end of my sophomore year. I will be continuing to join clubs and take every advantage offered at school. As of now, I am a part of the Robotics, omen in Engineering, Honors Council, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion part of the Honors Council, Mucic Creation Club, and Theater group and that's just in my first semester. I am going to continue in these clubs, take leadership positions and join more in the coming semesters with hopes to find the right field and then the right career for me.
    #Back2SchoolBold Scholarship
    My best tip is stay organized. Have lists, calendars and use all tool available to you. Staying organized helps you stay on top of work and stress less because you know where everything is. It definitely helps with studying and turning in assignments on time. My Instagram handle is @mandy_e_b_. Good luck to everyone this year.
    Ms. Susy’s Disney Character Scholarship
    My favorite Disney character is Annabeth Chase from Percy Jackson. I love how in the Percy Jackson series, she is a strong and incredibly wise woman. She is my favorite because when I started the series in seventh grade, (I've reread it many times since), I felt I could relate to her. She has been through so much before arriving at Camp Half-Blood and she stays tough. She doesn't get into fights or do anything rash even though it would make sense if she did, but she stays true to herself and waits for her time to go on a quest. She spends her time at camp preparing for whatever comes next. When Percy Jackson arrives at camp, she stays competitive but when it matters, becomes his friend. On her first quest, she helps in every way possible. She uses her wit to help. She is the daughter of Athena. The Greek Goddess of Wisdom and battle strategy. Even though she's never met her mother at the time, she uses her wits to keep her, Percy, and Grover (those on the quest) safe. At the end of the quest, she has made good friends and accomplished everything they set out to do on this quest. Throughout the first series, Annabeth and the demigods go on many different quests and save the world from the Titans. The series ends with her starting a relationship with Percy. I like how they are friends first but then in the end at age sixteen, become a couple. Personally, I like romance in books but there has to be something else happening in the book to keep it interesting. Annabeth is the best Disney character because she doesn't wait for a man or savior, she is her own hero, but never alone. Annabeth is someone the best Disney character.
    Engineers of the Future Scholarship
    I am passionate about engineering because I can see engineering in almost everything. It's in my laptop, phone, and scooter, it's everywhere! I use a mobility scooter because of my rare disorder (Morquio) and I would like to learn about the mechanics used. The scooter definitely helps me for long distances but I also see the many ways it can be improved. I am going into mechanical engineering in the fall of 2022 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to do that and more. I want to help people like me -who are physically disabled- feel more independent. I want to create a means to get around independently. I want to create a better scooter. One that can go on snow, sand, and bumpy or smooth pavement. One that has a seat that's "just right" for the driver. One that can go up and down stairs without upsetting the driver. These things may sound obvious to those who don't use one, but for someone who does, we know how hard it is to find the "right" scooter. The scooter I have now is good but now that I'm going to college I have to buy a new one! That's college tuition plus the price of a new scooter. This new scooter is good for snow and bumps, but it doesn't do stairs or what it could. I am going into engineering because I want to create a better, affordable scooter.
    Learner Math Lover Scholarship
    I love math because there is a definite answer to a problem. I love how there are steps to solve an equation and that if you follow the steps right, you are guaranteed an answer. I am going into the field of mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. It took me a while to decide on a major but I ended out with engineering because of the math. I like how once you get the hang of solving a problem, you can apply those skills to anything else. Math and I have not always been good for one another. I used to spend so much time worrying about how to solve a problem but after simplifying it a bit. I realized that I can do it. I can solve any problem I have if I break it down into steps and take my time. Now I take my time when tackling a problem. I look at it from another point of view and use logic to find my way out of the problem. Going into a STEM major is good for me because I can use math to help me. I no longer have to spend hours on end on a problem. I will simplify my problem into easier steps to not only save time but also ensure my success.
    Learner Statistics Scholarship
    I am pursing a degree in engineering. I choose mechanical engineering because I want to go into designing better ways for disabled people to navigate the world. As a disable women, I know some of the hardships we face on a daily basis. I want to change that. I know how hard it is to rely on others to do basic tasks such as navigate a mall or school. I know what it's like to use a mobility scooter and know all the ways it can be improved. Going into engineering I hope to learn how to make a better scooter. One where it can be easily adjusted to fit anyone. One that can go on stairs or creates a ramp on it's own. I want to create a mobility device - rather if it's a scooter, wheelchair or walker - that helps the driver/user as much as possible without frustrating them. Another option I have going into mechanical engineering is aerospace engineering. I have always been fascinated by space and the mechanics used there. At the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth there is a great engineering department with great professors. Aerospace engineering classes are offered. I am definitely going to take some classes. The great thing about going into engineering is the variety of options I will have once I graduate. I feel that going into STEM at college not only challenges you academically but also because it opens so may doors. With a degree in mechanical engineering I can do so much. Since I am disabled I need to make lots of money and engineers make a lot if they are good and I plan on being great. Going into a STEM major helps ensure that I will have a good future after college. I choose this because I am interested in engineering and being financially secure
    Learner Higher Education Scholarship
    Higher education is important to me o I can have a career. I have a rare disorder called Morquio. I have lots of medical bills. I need to make lots of money to both pays for my health and also have money left over to enjoy my life. I did a lot of research to find the right degree. I looked at what degree can get you what job and how well that would pay. I found that engineers make a good amount of money and then took an engineering class in high school to get a better idea. I like it. It's fun to build and I seem to be good at it. I am going to get a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth so that I can go into aerospace engineering one day. I am interested in space and the engineering behind it. People working at NASA or other space companies are not going to hire someone with no degree and even if they were, I would rather have a degree so that I could better understand what I'd be doing. If I find I don't like aerospace engineering but still like mechanical engineering, I would like to work on scooters. I use a mobility scooter now and while it helps greatly, there are ways it can be improved. I see things that most don't considering I use a scooter. I would like a scooter that can easily swap wheels for snow and sand if needed. Another thing is stairs. Ramps are always placed out of the way causing anyone on wheels or who can't do stairs to do even more walking to find a ramp. There are scooters that do stairs! They exist if you are willing to spend over thirty-thousand dollars on one. I would like to make one that's both affordable and easy to obtain. I would love a career doing either of those listed above but I cannot do it with a high school degree alone. Higher education is important to me because it means independence. It means finally doing something that can help me cover my future without having to rely on my family. It's important because it opens doors. It unlocks new opportunities. Going to college means living on my own for most of the week and the start of something new. I am excited to start college.
    A Dog Changed My Life Scholarship
    I didn't beg for Molly, my sister did. For years. I always knew we would get a dog someday but when it happened five years ago, I was surprised. Now that it happened, but how much I love Molly. She's my best friend. She's there when I need her, for a hug or just to talk to. When I was about to have surgery and a long recovery, I was nervous about how Molly would react. Then it happened and she was perfect. She was with me when my family was either at work or school, she was laying on my bed near me. It's almost like she knew I needed a break. When it was time for me to get up and exercise, she was right there ready to play. She's not a service dog! My family and I tried training her to be one but after a while, we realized she is a family dog. Molly changed my life by being a great friend.
    Dr. Rajesh Aggarwal Scholarship for Scientific Studies
    An example of how creative thinking combined with Science has led to an innovative solution to an everyday societal challenge is when I use a bungee cord to attach my backpack to my walker at school. I try to be as independent as I can be but living with a rare disorder called Morquio hasn't made that easy. Morquio is a rare genetic disorder that I was diagnosed with at age three. I lack an enzyme (deficiency of N-acetylgalactosamine-6-sulfate sulfatase (GALNS). What this means is that my bones are weak and don't grow as fast as someone without them would. I'm eighteen years old and I've had eleven surgeries. I am three foot three and have a hard time getting from class to class. I have a scooter that I can use at school but when I use it I don't walk as much and my legs get weaker. I decided that the best thing I can do is walk at school. It helps me but I cannot walk all day with my bag without feeling achy and tired so I use a walker. That didn't solve the problem completely. Even though I leave class early to avoid the busy hall I still need a way to get my bag to class. Sometimes I have a friend or classmate carry my bag but that doesn't help the fact that I like to do things on my own. The solution is a simple bungee cord. My backpack sits on the back of the walker while the bungee cord holds it into place. This helps me in multiple ways. I can now get from class to class on my own, continue walking, and I also get stronger arms since my bag is heavy to me. That's one of the many ways that creative thinking combined with Science has led to an innovative solution to an everyday challenge. Other ways include automatic doors in buildings, Ramps in public places, and semi-autonomous scooters. These things help disabled people navigate the world but they can also be improved. The automatic doors could have buttons that could be bigger or there could be multiple so that people of all heights could reach and open the doors. The ramps are great! They help when wheels need to cross the street or get into place. The only improvement to be made there would be to have more ramps so that we don't need to go all around the block to find one and so that all buildings are accessible. Instead of having a big ramp in front of a small shop, there should be a portable ramp that store owners or workers can easily assemble or move so that everyone can enter. Semi-autonomous scooters should be better priced so that people who already are spending lots of money on medications or hospital visits for their disorder can afford the scooter. I am majoring in engineering next year and hope to make these things a reality.
    Bold Influence Scholarship
    If I were a highly influential figure, I would stand for disabled people. I was born with a genetic physical disability called Morquio. I know what it's like not to fit in or to feel left out. I know that the world is not 100% accessible. I'm glad the ADA has made laws against discriminating against us but that's not enough. A handicap sign is there but not in the right place. Sidewalks aren't even. Buildings need more rams and better elevators. If I were an influential figure I would bring up these points in order to make the lives of people with disabilities better. I would make it so that the handicapped parking spots are by the door and have a ramp. I would make it so that the handicap buttons to open doors are in a good sot for those in wheelchairs and those with gigantism or dwarfism. I would make it so that all buildings are accessible for every. For every staircase there should be an elevator nearby, not hidden or in the back near the bathroom. For every small step, there should be a ramp nearby. I would make all the problems that disabled people face known and do my best to find a solution.
    Bold Relaxation Scholarship
    I take care of my mental health by staying organized and doing things I enjoy. I have everything on my calendar and a bunch of to do lists to ensure that I stay on top of things. This helps me so that I can complete my school work early and not miss out on anything. I maintain high grades this way so that I don't stress out as much. As a person of habits I tend to do the same thing every day, so every day I get what I need done and then when that's all done I have time to relax. Relaxing to me consists of reading, listening to music, watching TV or playing games. On a good day I have a few hours to do this once I finish homework or chores. My mental health has been good. I think the best way to continue this is to stick with my schedules, continue relaxing and also go to clubs and hang out with friends.
    Young Women in STEM Scholarship
    1. My name is Amanda (Mandy) Bellassai. I am a high school senior in Plymouth Massachusetts. I was born with a rare disability called MPS IV A and this affects my life every day. Living with a disability has shown me how much people overlook you simply because of a label. I know how people see a handicap sign and think the place must be accessible. It's not. The parking spaces may be in front of the door but the ramp isn't. There may be a handicap door but where's the button. I want to study engineering and design something for disabled people so that we can do anything that anyone else can. I'm an eighteen year old and am three feet tall. I know what it's like to be judged by your looks, to be thought of as the "short girl." I want to study engineering to prove that I'm more. I want to show the world that size doesn't matter. 2. STEM excites me because it's where technology meets. It's a combination of science, technology, engineering, and math. Things that women have been overlooked for over the years. I feel I could make a positive impact on the world through a job in information technology. I do not know exactly what job I’d get after college but the great thing about majoring in engineering is it would open up so many job opportunities. I know that I could make a positive impact on the world with a job in information technology. It mainly has to do with computers and the world is changing so much but the technology is just getting better. I am a Co-Lead for Teens United which is a nonprofit organization with a mission to build a national network of Teen volunteers to provide contact-less, and safe and free home delivery of groceries, medicine, and other essential items to senior citizens (over the age of 55) and to our Frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. I've been a member since 2020 and am now one of the leaders. As of now we are completely redesigning our website and I’ve been actively going to our weekly meetings to help out. We are partnered with GenShe and are planning a Make-a-thon for young women. This is an exciting opportunity for young women to get an idea of what jobs we could have in STEM. As a member, I get to help plan this event and attend it in August which is a perfect time for me to learn more about this before I begin college in September. 3. My greatest challenge is Morquio. Morquio is a rare genetic disorder that I was diagnosed with at age three. I grew up with Morquio but it doesn't mean I like it. Having this has constantly given me new challenges. I had my first surgery at age four but that's not a cure. I am now eighteen and have had twelve surgeries. Morquio isn’t something you can overcome but it is a challenge. I have been the shortest in the room all my life and I have to prove myself again and again. I had to switch schools because of this. Proving myself to others has been the challenge. I do not like to be judged based on my size. I hate when people see me and assume I don't belong. I do belong. In fifth grade there was a reading competition of “who can get the most AR points?” I doubled the score of who got second place. In sixth grade when I had to go from Florida to New York once a week for infusion (before we switched to home infusions) I got the AB honor roll. I won second place in the sun games. I started high school leveled classes in middle school but that wasn’t enough. I’ve learned that there’s always going to be that one person who doesn’t think you are good enough. What matters is if you think you are. I am now a high school senior who has done fourteen after school activities. I am a member of the National Honors Society and the International Thespian Society. Going into college I know that I’m going to need to prove myself to others but that’s okay. I know that I can do it.
    Ace Spencer Rubin Scholarship
    In eighth grade, I came back from the ER after missing algebra for a day. I apologize for missing a day to my teacher and he told me never to apologize for my health. In sixth grade, a student walked up to me in the halls and said, “How come you’re in middle school you're so short?” I then realized that people were gonna judge me based on my size no matter where I was so I had to stick up for myself. I had to show everyone that I’m short and that is all. That being short is my problem and that nobody should ever think less of me because of this. I looked the kid in the eyes and replied, “How come you’re in middle school and have to ask?” I then walked away with my walker feeling stronger. My disability (Morquio) has taught me that people are always gonna judge you based on your size but nobody should. I may be short but that doesn’t make me any less than anyone. I’ll always be the shortest person in the room. I might not be as strong as everyone else but that doesn’t affect anyone but me. Morquio has taught me that people don’t know who you are or what you’ve done based on your looks, but that means nothing. I am a high school senior with a 3.8 GPA. I have been in over twelve clubs. People don’t see me for what I’ve done, just what I look like. I want to change this. Nobody should be judged by their size. If I am awarded this scholarship I will be able to go to college and pursue my education and continue to prove myself. I want to either become a lawyer or an engineer. As an engineer, I want to design something to help people with disabilities fit in better. I may not be one hundred percent sure of my major but whatever I do end up majoring in I will give one hundred percent. I will make myself known in the field. I’m an advocate. I’m a person. I am not less because of my size. I am not less because of the eleven surgeries I’ve had. I am going to live my life the same way I would if I were born without a disability. I want to help others live their life regardless of a disability.
    Bold Books Scholarship
    The most inspiring book I've read was Game Changer by Neal Shusterman. It inspires the reader to stand up for their beliefs. I read this book for fun but didn't expect it to be that good. The book starts out with an ordinary football player named Ash that gets hurt and accidentally changes reality. This draws the reader in by making the reader want to find out why/how he did this. Eventually you find out he is the center of the universe but that's not why you keep reading. You keep reading because each time he "jumps" he is transported to another reality with one thing different. One jump he changes America's view on racism and Ash's best friend in the real world was black. This makes Ash fight to change his newly segregate school into a place he feels is right. The book shows something different in Ash's life each jump and how Ash does whatever he can to make it right. I love this book because it inspires the reader to fight to change their reality to a place that is equal for everyone.
    Bold Great Books Scholarship
    My favorite book is Wonder by RJ Palacio. I was first introduced to this book in fifth grade by my teacher, Mrs Morris. I usually don't like when a teacher picks out a book but this one immediately grabbed my attention. It was a story I could relate to. About a kid in a new school who everyone judges based on his looks. That sums up every new school I go to. I have a rare physical disability (Morquio) that I am constantly overlooked for. I too am a good student but always comparing myself to others simply because of the way I look. In the book, Auggie is starting to go to school in person after being homeschooled because he has a rare craniofacial condition and has needed many surgeries so he hasn't gone in person before. I feel I can connect with this book because I too have lots of surgeries and when I read this (fifth grade) I had just moved so I was also the new kid at school. The book tells about all the challenges he faces and all the amazing ways he overcomes them. This book helped me adjust to my new school and I continue to reread it once a year, I'm now a high school senior but I will continue to love this book forever, It's the book that got me into reading. The book I can relate too. I love this book because it helps the reader understand what it's like to have a disability. I hope that more books are written like this because it's an amazing way to spread awareness.
    Bold Moments No-Essay Scholarship
    As a member of the National MPS Society, my sister, mom and I went to Washington D.C to advocate for MPS and ML by talking to our state senators.