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Employee Spotlight - Raquella Freeman

Raquella Freeman and her cat River

Raquella Freeman and her cat River

Hi, my name is Raquella Freeman I’ve recently joined the Fund Development department as a Development Fellow! Joining Independence First is truly a dream come true. I’m so thankful to be part of an organization that is truly supporting persons with disabilities to live independently. Here is a little bit more about me and why I’m so excited to be part of the Independence First Family. 

When I was eight, I wanted to be a ballerina; I wanted a Skip-It and skateboard. For those who do not know me, those activities would probably sound odd or a joke because I use a wheelchair. So, someone who doesn't know my determination would likely think, "Why would you even think that you could be a ballerina? Don't you know you can't walk?" I was born with cerebral palsy and have never been able to walk, but my family has always made sure that I never let my physical limitations stop me from dreaming big.

I remember going to a caricature artist around this time and he asked “what I wanted to be when I grew up,” and I said ballerina without a second thought. I didn’t realize then why the artist looked at me with shock and confusion. He did what I asked, but even at eight I felt the tension. I still have the picture and it hung in my room until I moved out for college. 

a caricature of raquella as a ballerina

Caricature of Raquella as a ballerina with a cat and music notes

As you may have guessed I’m not a ballerina, but I have done some pretty awesome things thanks to the support of my family and friends. Some notable examples are; I have sung in a choir in the Sydney Opera House, I’ve gotten my Bachelor’s degree from Alverno College, I lived across the country in San Antonio, Texas for five years, I have worked with a variety of nonprofit organizations doing amazing work for the last nine years, and I’m eight months away from completing my Master’s Degree at Marquette University and now get to work with Independence First. Working with nonprofits with a focus on persons with disabilities has been a dream starting in high school, when I started to give speeches about disability advocacy and education. I look forward to using my background in nonprofit work and passion for advocacy to support Independence First’s mission in the months (and hopefully years) ahead.