Elisanta is a fiercely independent individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who has accomplished so much in her life, and who is determined to keep on achieving!
Nothing feels out of reach for Elisanta. She always has a project in the works and is always working hard to redefine new goals and milestones for herself to achieve.
In 2022, Elisanta was the proud recipient of the CFS Advocate of the Year Award. Also in 2022, she was able to meet one of her high priority goals: to earn her GED (General Educational Development Test, that once passed, earns you a high school equivalency credential).
“I was so grateful and excited when I received the award, it actually brought me to tears. When I asked my case worker about it, she explained that I was recognized for my independence and ability to handle things on my own. I bless everyone who has helped me achieve this,” recalls Elisanta.
Getting her high school equivalency was something that Elisanta’s mother had really wanted for her.
“Before my mother passed away, she urged me to get my GED. I didn’t do it then, even though I had wanted to. However, after COVID hit, I felt like I needed to do something good, and I know my mom would be happy and proud of me for it,” says Elisanta.
While working on her GED, Elisanta and her teachers at the Stanford Career Institute (SCI) uncovered Elisanta’s hidden talent for drawing and encouraged her to continue her studies with a focus on fine arts! Now she is taking college-level art classes at SCI!
“I actually discovered that I have a talent for drawing! I taught myself by watching YouTube videos, and now I’ve been drawing a lot more. I decorate my door for every holiday. Stanford Korea institute actually reached out to me and invited me back to continue my art education, which made me so happy,” she says.
The drawing here is Elisanta’s newest work of art in honor of 2023 Developmental Disability Awareness Month (DDAM) which is celebrated internationally every March.
When Elisanta is not at school, or taking care of her apartment or her two parakeets, Elisanta works as the secretary for CFS’ Advocacy Groups. As the secretary of these groups, which work hard to advocate for inclusion and disability rights, Elisanta ensures group participants are notified of meeting schedules, makes sure meetings take place on time, prepares and shares meeting agendas, and takes meeting minutes, all the while participating in group discussions and decisions. She attends all kinds of online conferences and webinars, including SANYS, to learn as much as she can about the issues that are important to persons with I/DD so that she can bring back useful information to the groups she works with.
In her free time, she is always practicing and creating beautiful art, which she proudly displays on her apartment door for special occasions and holidays like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s.
Elisanta has a happy and independent life, living alone in her Brooklyn apartment with her two parakeets. She enjoys taking walks and meeting new people. She used to be more shy, but is making an effort to get out there so that she can keep making new connections. She is always striving to learn and to grow.
Elisanta is an inspiration to all those who know her. She has faced many challenges in her life – like all of us – but she never gives up. She shows us all that with perseverance, determination, support from her community, and, of course, an open heart, dreams can come true!
She is a true advocate for herself and others with I/DD, and is making a real difference in her world.