Meet Our Staff
DCC Staff Profiles Heading link
I joined the Disability Cultural Center staff as Director in 2019. I identify as a white, cisgender woman who is deaf. As an adult, I’ve learned some sign language, but I grew up mainstreamed in hearing culture.
I received my PhD in English Literature from the University of Chicago, and my academic interests focus around representations of disability and everydayness, particularly the formal choices that build certain concepts of disability in relationship to race. One of my primary questions has been: what can visual representation say, convey, or be ambiguous about that textual representation can’t, and vice versa? These investigations have led me to focus on representation not just in prose novels but also in media like comics and reality tv. (Ask me about the course I taught on reality tv and “anomalous embodiment”!)
Before coming to UIC, my professional background was in writing program administration, where I specialized in academic writing and supporting graduate students–both as teachers of writing, and as writers working in highly specialized discourse communities. While my interests in supporting writers have sometimes felt separate from my interests in disability studies, they come together in two important ways. As an undergrad at UW-Madison, I worked as a peer writing tutor, and being assigned to an Intro to Disability Studies course is how I encountered disability studies for the first time. I thought it “might be interesting,” and it turned out to be a lightbulb moment that nudged me to explore my relationship to disability identity, begin processing my experiences and how they had been narrated to me, and grapple with my own internalized ableism. Also, it was at academic conferences for rhetoricians and writing instructors that I first experienced radical accessibility put into practice. It was hugely transformative to feel, for the first time, that I was invited to ask for what I needed, that I was anticipated and welcome. In these contexts, I learned to think about practices as shaping environments and sending messages.
As I carry these experiences with me, I’m grateful to find a professional home in a cultural center that’s organized around building cross-disability and cross-movement solidarity.
I joined the UIC Disability Cultural Center staff as the Associate Director in Summer 2023. One of my main responsibilities at the DCC is facilitating the Community Care Kit Project, including the Community Care Cohort Internship! I identify as a white, queer, nonbinary person with psychiatric disabilities and a chronic illness. I have been given numerous psychiatric labels over the years (some feel accurate, others not so much!). I also have a chronic illness called dysautonomia that I developed after multiple concussions. I am continuously re/un/learning about how to work with and ride the rollercoaster that is autonomic nervous system dysfunction.
I received my PhD from UIC in the Social Foundations of Education, and while I am interested in a lot of different topics, my main focus is on psychiatric disabilities/mental health, students, and education/schooling. I spend a lot of time thinking about systems of power, privilege/oppression, abolition, community care, and disability justice.
My professional life before the DCC included a variety of things from campus programming, to being the director of a Sexuality Summer Institute, to teaching several critical education courses, like Critical Disability Studies in Education and Gender & Sexuality in Education. I received my master’s degree in Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University, and that is when I was introduced to disability culture for the first time. I went to a Sins Invalid performance in Fall 2009, and it changed my life – I’ve been working to deepen my relationship to disability culture and disability justice ever since!Other topics you can always talk with me about: I have a cute dog named Motley, in my downtime you can find me playing Zelda on my Switch, camping and hiking are two of my most favorite activities, and I love to cook and bake!
Febe Frias (They/Them/Theirs)
Year & Major: Junior, Public Health major with a minor in Spanish.
Passions and/or research interests: I am passionate about child advocacy, art, and creative writing.
How I connected with the DCC: I connected with the DCC through the Woman’s Leadership and Resource Center when I transferred to UIC. What I most love about the DCC is how they welcome you in with open arms. I love that I can be my most authentic self at the DCC!
Ask me about: Come and talk to me about anything! I enjoy talking to other people especially if it’s art related!
Gené Jolivet (She/Her/Hers)
Year & Major: I am in my third year at UIC, and I study Graphic Design.
Passions and/or research interests: My passion is Design because I love to speak to people through my work. I love to create things that people can engage in and relate to. I am also very passionate about spreading awareness for mental health.
How I connected with the DCC: I connected with the DCC because of my fight with Sickle Cell anemia. I have been searching for a safe place where I can be myself, and meet others like me.
Ask me about Sickle cell disease, mental health, and graphic design!!!
Paloma Araujo (They/Them/Theirs)
Year & Major: I am a Junior majoring in Industrial Design
Passions and/or research interests: I am passionate about intersectionality and learning more about other’s identities and cultures that shape their lived experiences. I am interested in the lived experiences of disabled QTBIPOC. My special interests include history, medieval to renaissance, Chicano history, neurodivergence, and punk.
How I connected with the DCC: During my freshman year, I started to attend some online events the DCC hosted and contributed to the Disabled Latino/a/xs zine. I also participated in the DCC Community Care Cohort.
Ask me about Medieval history, The British royal family, music, food especially vegan food, the Sims, Monster High, and the show Reservation Dogs. I am happy to talk!
Mi Row (They/Them/Theirs, He/Him/His)
I was born in Korea but raised in a small suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve been in Chicago for almost 3 years! I identify as a 1.5 gen immigrant, Korean American, neurodivergent & mentally ill, queer & genderqueer/trans. I was radicalized and raised as a community organizer in Columbus, Ohio during college by peers and leaders in the local community. I worked with mainly BIPOC or QTBIPOC community organizations and individuals to protest against violence against Black trans women, anti-Asian hate, and the continuous police murders of Black teenagers. I also organized a mutual aid group in Columbus, which blossomed & ended (with lessons learned). Some major influences in my life and work have been Black feminist writers & abolitionist thinkers: bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Mariame Kaba, Angela Davis; along with my chosen family & KQT siblings.
I am passionate about creating communities of abundance for QTBIPOC individuals in the Midwest and building relationships that feel meaningful and sustainable. My current hyperfixations include playing spider solitaire as a fidget/focus tool, making fried rice, jigsaw puzzles & board games, and rewatching “Running Man” (a Korean variety TV show). I’m also interested in poetry and embroidery!
I am currently attending UIC’s Master of Social Work program. I connected with the DCC for community & learning/celebrating all things disability justice!