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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Internship Realizations by Chloe Diamond: NCIL Summer Policy Intern

This past spring semester, I decided to chase a dream. Ever since I can remember, law school had been a far, yet somewhat tangible goal of mine. Grade school teachers would tell my parents that I’d make a wonderful attorney one day, but unfazed, I didn’t really put much thought into a career until college.

Chloe DiamondRefusing to use an IEP at any point in my primary education, I found myself at a crossroads at the beginning of my undergraduate career. If I was going to succeed, I needed the accommodations I should have been receiving all along. But I felt guilty, I allowed socialized views of my disability (ADHD) to deter me from seeking the assistance I didn’t necessarily need to slide by, yet required to be successful.

Luckily, I chose an undergraduate institution with a fabulous disability resource center (DRC). Each semester, I found solace in taking my midterms and final exams in the calm and quiet environment provided to me. My self-confidence was restored. I could succeed. I was able to. I declared my major by the second semester of my freshman year, and began to take courses that made sense to me.

At the beginning of my junior year, I found myself in my academic advisor’s office, having the elusive “what do you want to be when you grow up” talk. Somehow we bargained on law school, and within months I was studying to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

But with studying, old wounds re-opened. Self doubt, feelings of limited ability and frustration were normal feelings. I isolated myself from everyone who cared. Then, a solution occurred to me; I could use my accommodations! There was no way I could fail!

Except, well, this didn’t turn out as anticipated. I approached my provider with the required forms and she delivered the unfortunate news that the testing organization informed her that I was not disabled enough by my limitations in order to use any accommodations on the LSAT. 

The last two months of test preparation were rough, knowing that I wouldn’t have the same familiarity of my practice testing conditions on test day made me feel hopeless. I grew up playing a handful of sports and remain decently active to this day and am thankful to have acquired the “never give up” mentality, something that helped me persevere through many adverse situations like this one.

Fast forward to June 10th, two days after my LSAT administration. It was my first day in Washington, DC and the start to my six week summer internship with the National Council on Independent Living. My supervisor, Kelly Buckland, invited me to tag along to a Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Listening Session at the Department of Justice. This listening session was presided over by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, this year’s NCIL Conference Keynote speaker.

A few weeks later, I was assigned the task of researching and writing up a biography for Ms. Gupta to distribute to the NCIL community. In doing so, I discovered Ms. Gupta’s work around Law School Admission Council (LSAC) malpractices, which at some point in time included the flagging of test takers using accommodations’ scores and accounts.

Although law school isn’t one of my five-year goals anymore, I haven’t totally nixed the possibility. I graduate from Arizona State University in May 2016 with a B.S. in Nutrition with an emphasis in communication and hope to return to DC shortly thereafter to begin a Master’s in Public Health program. I’m so proud of the advocacy skills I’ve gained in learning to advocate for myself and I hope to teach others how they can do the same.

I’m thrilled with the work that is being done to eliminate discrimination in the academic sector, yet we are nowhere near where we should be in the year 2015. It’s frustrating, yet I encourage you to open your eyes to see how prevalent, even if minute, these issues remain.

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