Anna is a speller from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania who was nominated as a significant influencer in her community. In addition to being a regular part of the Spellers and Advocates network, Anna has also forged new roads in the world of education by successfully advocating for inclusion and acceptance at her high school. We are so thankful for advocates like Anna, and for this opportunity to share her story with you, My New Life with Communication!
Bryana: It’s fantastic to meet you and your mom, Anna! Thank you both for the time this morning to complete this interview, I’m excited to get going. How does it feel to be a Spelltember nominee?
Anna: I THINK ITS AN HONOR. I THINK EVERYONE DESERVES TO BE RECOGNIZED. THE ONLY THING I MAY HAVE THAT OTHERS DON’T IS THE EXPERIENCE OF SUCCESSFULLY ADVOCATING FOR MY EDUCATION.
Bryana: That’s great! So you’ve had luck getting supports in your school?
Anna: YES, I CHANGED THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF MY HIGH SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS
Bryana: That’s definitely a major feat!
Anna: THANKS, I’M REALLY HAPPY ABOUT STARTING OTHER NONSPEAKERS WITH SPELLING TO COMMUNICATE.
Bryana: Absolutely-we can’t thank you enough for being an advocate and being willing to put yourself out there. Stories like yours are the reason most families come to learn S2C. For the nonspeakers out there, what advice would you give to those who wish to advocate for themselves or the nonspeaking community?
Anna: THEY SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID OF STANDING UP FOR THEMSELVES – THEY NEED TO PERSIST AND NOT GIVE UP ON THEIR DREAMS.
Bryana: Solid advice indeed – I’m sure your example and the thoughts you’re sharing in this interview will be an inspiration in this! If you could interview someone you look up to, who would it be?
Anna: I THINK I WOULD CHOOSE RBG I THINK SHE WAS AN AMAZING FEMINIST
Bryana: Yes, she was a force to be reckoned with! Quite an influence, which also happens to be the category you were nominated in. How do you think you embody being an influencer?
Anna: I THINK I HAVE INFLUENCED MANY PARENTS OF NONSPEAKERS TO HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR THEIR CHILD’S EDUCATION. I TOLD THEM THAT THEIR CHILD IS CAPABLE OF SO MUCH MORE THAN THEY ARE GETTING IN SPECIAL ED. I MAKE THEM SEE WHAT A NONSPEAKER LIKE MYSELF CAN DO. THEY TOLD ME DIRECTLY LATER THAT I MADE A HUGE IMPACT ON THEM.
Bryana: The nonspeaking world is full of unseen and unrecognized talent – you and many of your peers have played a huge role in opening doors to them. I love your note about high expectations, too, because so many neurotypical people THINK they are holding high expectations and, yet, are missing so much potential. What is the biggest unsung contribution you think spellers bring to the world?
Anna: WE BRING JOY TO OUR FAMILIES THAT THOUGHT WE WOULD ALWAYS STAY SILENT. I GET SO HAPPY SEEING THE EXCITEMENT WHEN ANOTHER SPELLER FINDS THEIR VOICE. WE BRING HOPE TO SO MANY WHO STILL HAVE THEIR THOUGHTS STUCK INSIDE.
Bryana: That is a beautiful sentiment and I totally agree with you – there’s nothing like seeing a person break out into open for the first time. I am always surprised in the most astounding ways by the eloquence and honesty in those thoughts. Have you ever been surprised by something a person said to you, speller or otherwise?
Anna: I WAS SURPRISED THE FIRST TIME EV TOLD ME TO WRITE A POEM. I GOT GOOD FEELINGS SHE BELIEVED I WAS SMART. I HAD NEVER BEEN ASKED TO DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT BEFORE. I FEEL MY LIFE CHANGED THAT DAY BECAUSE MY BELIEF IN MYSELF WAS IGNITED.
Bryana: I think that one may end up on on a meme – “My belief in myself was ignited”. Beautifully said, Anna. I’ve got a couple more questions, so let’s dive into some unexpected and fun ones here: What Hogwarts house would you be in and why?
Anna: I THINK I NEED TO START READING HARRY POTTER
Bryana: Ha ha, you haven’t read the books yet?
Bryana: Fair enough! How about this instead: if you were a Starbucks drink, how would you describe yourself?
Anna: I THINK I’D CHANGE THE MENU AND MAKE MY OWN – ACTUALLY I CHANGED MY ANSWER, MAYBE ANYTHING SPICY WITH SOME SWEETNESS …JUST SAY SPICY SWEET
Bryana: Ha ha, I feel like I’m learning a lot about you! Before we end, what’s something you want the readers of this blog to know about you?
Anna: NEED TO TELL THEM THAT NONSPEAKERS HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY, THAT WE REALLY NEED TO HAVE SUPPORT TO SHOW OUR INTELLIGENCE, SO MAKE SPACE FOR US IN THE WORLD. THERE’S NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN HELPING MORE NONSPEAKERS FIND THEIR HIDDEN VOICES
Anna Napolitano is a member of the I-ASC National Leadership Council and nominated as a Spellebrity Influencer. She says yes to new opportunities and is courageous in collaborating and engaging to ensure goals are accomplished. “I am most proud of overcoming barriers to getting a real education and going to college.”