New York, United States
Allilsa Fernandez is currently a governmental policy, research and public communications intern at the Daniels Initiative. Fernandez graduated magna cum laude from Stony Brook University last winter with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, despite being told she would never be able to attend school because of her struggles with psychosis.She is the founder of Peer Mental Health Alliance, an organization on campus that provides resources for mental health through literature, peer-to-peer support and creative arts programming that aims to end the stigma associated with mental illness. Fernandez was also an undergraduate representative for the President’s ADA Committee at Stony Brook University and a mentor for the ACE program to provide guidance and resources to incoming students with disabilities. She also participated in the PAR (Participatory Action Research) , a university research program that enlists students with disabilities to provide the administration with feedback on accessibility issues. Fernandez is also a member of the student advisory board for DREAM (Disability Rights, Education, Activism and Mentoring), where she works on accessibility and inclusion issues in higher education nationwide. Fernandez has won numerous awards for her advocacy work on campus: the distinguished service award, the student organization leadership award, the outstanding leadership award and the advocacy award. These awards were given by Student Affairs and the LGBTQ center at Stony Brook University. She has also served on the boards of various mental health, disability and LGBTA+ organizations. Through her activism, Fernandez made landmark changes at Stony Brook University: requiring captions for videos produced by the undergraduate student government; including information about accommodations on all material for university events; and ensuring that the ADA automated buttons on campus are operational, and if not, where to report them to be fixed in a timely matter. Fernandez’s activism has been featured in local and national media, including in Forbes. Her personal story that she posted on Facebook went viral, appearing in several blogs and podcasts.