by Charis Royal, AAPPD Volunteer | October 6, 2016
I am currently a dual MPH/MA student working towards becoming a physician scientist with an emphasis on bio-containment and bio-safety. I graduated in May 2015 Summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelor's of Science in Biological Sciences and a Bachelor's of Science in Anthropology. My research focus is on infectious diseases, with an emphasis on containment and prevention of communicable diseases. My education goal is to complete a dual MD/PhD program in emergency medicine and infectious disease pathology/microbiology.
Why I chose to volunteer for AAPPD:
When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythomatosus and at 15 fibro myalgia. Since being diagnosed my autoimmune disorders have caused many ups and downs and have presented obstacles in my life that I have overcome and learned to move past. For many individuals with disabilities, we are viewed as unable to achieve the same successes as our healthy counterparts, or we are told that we cannot do the same things due to our disabilities. In reality, it is not that we are unable to accomplish these tasks, but rather there is a disabled stigma that lends itself to society and disabled people being unable to realize their potential.
A moment that will stay with me forever was when I was tutoring a student and in discussing grades, studying, and completing their program, he got upset and said “You don’t have a disability. People with good grades can’t be disabled." This was a life-altering moment where I realized that the “disability stigma” within our society is not only perpetuated by those without a disability but also those with a disability. Many students with disabilities do not believe they can achieve higher education, hold down a job, or succeed at life goals that people without disabilities have. I have made it my mission to show every disabled individual that the solution is to work with your disability, not against it; through my teaching and mentoring I developed different coaching, teaching, and learning styles designed to help people with disabilities be a positive impact on their classes, communities, and employment.
Through my partnership with TRiO, being the President of Arizona State University’s Disability Advisory Board and now, with The Miss America Organization, Miss Arizona Chapter, I have become a Valley-wide advocate and supporter for people with disabilities. I chose to volunteer with AAPPD because I hope to continue this advocacy through your organization in order to understand and learn how to combat the disability stigma through legislation and provider cooperation. Being a part of your organization also comes with the potential to spread my Miss America platform, #disABLED, which will promote and educate people across the Valley on how to overcome the disability stigma.
What else do I do?
I have a variety of hobbies, which include archery, rock climbing, hiking with my dogs and volunteering. I also am very proud of my own website called A Microbial World (amicrobialworld.com) which is designed to keep people up to date on public health issues and educate the average person on basic public health concepts. It is still new and I am currently focusing on Zika, which is large concern in Arizona. I have also published a couple of articles on MERS-CoV and antibiotic resistance in the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine, focusing on how urgent cares can be prepared and contribute to the mitigation of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance. I volunteer at a couple of local hospitals, mostly in the Emergency Deapartments. I absolutely love teaching and theatre! I work in the neuroscience lab at the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative campus, as a biology teaching assistant teaching general biology labs and as a theatre lighting technician.
- I am fluent in American Sign Language and am also learning Spanish and French.
- I have two dogs (they are the best dogs in the world and you can't convince me otherwise)!
- I have lived in 28 houses and 7 states.
- I competed in the Miss America, Miss Arizona Chapter for the first time last year and won 1st runner up and 5 Quality of Life Awards.
- I have my EMT license and worked as an EMT for 2 years