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Celebrating Diversity and Disability Awareness at the Dupré Library

Jennifer Ercoli... -- 10/16/2023

As I strolled through the Dupré Library at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on October 9th, I was inspired by the profound stories and experiences shared by students with disabilities. The month-long disability awareness exhibition, curated by graduate student Katarina Brankovic from the Department of Modern Languages, was not just an exhibition, but a testament to the power of inclusion and the celebration of diversity.

The event opened on October 1st, but it was the promotional event on the 9th that truly touched my heart. Students like Mary Malbreaux, Gabrielle (Gabby) Hoffpauir-Rosatto, Alex Mack, Zac Lines, and Dr. Carol Landry took the stage to share their personal journeys, disabilities, and what this project meant to them. It was an initiative that spotlighted the incredible community of students who have left a permanent mark on our university, enriching our understanding of inclusivity and disability. These individuals teach us valuable lessons about resilience, determination, and the power of the human spirit.

The exhibition is a commitment to breaking down barriers and redefining perspectives surrounding disability. It encourages visitors to become beacons of change, fostering an environment where everyone is seen, heard, and valued, regardless of their abilities. By visiting the exhibit, you can immerse yourself in the experiences of UL students with disabilities through their compelling stories and the artifacts that portray their lives. QR codes on each student board provide deeper insights into their journeys, and reading their stories can be truly eye-opening, shedding light on the challenges and experiences that many of us may not have previously considered.

The exhibition not only showcases individual experiences but also delves into the rich history of UL Lafayette, highlighting its journey towards accommodation and ADA compliance, allowing visitors to connect with the Beacon Club, a driving force in creating a culture of awareness and inclusion, as well as sharing UL Journals like the Vermilion, La Louisiane, and The Score, which have shared disability narratives and provided access to crucial information. You can gain a deeper understanding of the lived experience with disabilities and the significance of family support through excerpts from novels, such as the heartwarming relationship between Ernest J. Gaines and his aunt, among many other touching stories you'll discover.

In the heart of October, the Dupré Library is more than a repository of books; it is a sanctuary of acceptance and understanding. It is a place where we celebrate the extraordinary resilience of individuals and the strength of community, reminding us that true inclusivity knows no bounds. Visit the exhibition, be inspired, and join the movement towards a more inclusive world.