Engelic Everett arrived at Buffalo State in 2001 with the first class of students in the College-Based Transition Program, an initiative between the college, Buffalo Public Schools, and People Inc., that provides young adults with disabilities a chance to take non-degree college courses. At the time, Everett was an 18-year-old high school student with Down syndrome.
Now, Everett is a published children’s book author, as well as an entrepreneur, cable access TV show host, and advocate for people with disabilities. In March 2017, the Museum of Disability History published her children’s book Olivia the Bully, illustrated by Jeffrey Scott Perdziak. It’s a sweet tale featuring a third-grade protagonist that examines bullying, friendship, and acceptance.
On Wednesday, March 20, Everett is returning to campus as the featured speaker for the Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) meeting at 6:30 p.m. in Bacon Hall 215. Everett will discuss the obstacles she faced on her journey to becoming a published writer and what qualities are necessary to be an effective teacher. Copies of her book will be available for sale and the campus community is welcome to attend.
“She has accomplished many great things in Buffalo and is a big advocate for ending bullying,” said Megan Buseck, SCEC president. “She will be speaking with us about her book as well as what we can do as teachers to help all our students reach their goals and fullest potential.”
Lynne Sommerstein, a lecturer in exceptional education who co-founded and serves as the liaison for the College-Based Transition Program, recommended Everett as the meeting’s speaker because the SCEC members want to learn more about individuals with Down syndrome.
“You read all about Down syndrome in a book, but you can’t see how someone with Down syndrome achieves success until you talk to them,” she said.
Everett was a memorable student. Sommerstein recalls the young woman sitting in on one of her classes and having a larger-than-life personality. She stayed in the program for four years.
“She had a lot of drive to achieve,” Sommerstein said. “I think a lot of her experiences at Buffalo State helped her to develop the skills she has today.”
Everett’s advocacy work started at Buffalo State. She became an active member of the Buffalo State Chapter of Best Buddies and presented at several conferences, including the Association of People with Severe Disabilities in Chicago.
In 2016, Everett received the Chris Burke Award for Excellence in disAbility Advocacy. Her story was included in the “In Celebration of Down Syndrome,” traveling exhibit created by The Museum of DisAbility History.
“We consider students who complete the program and get a job a success,” Sommerstein said. “I would say Engelic has gone far beyond that.”
The event is sponsored by United Students Government.
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