Aly Patsavas came into disability studies through personal experience with disability. She was in a car accident years ago and has had to deal chronic pain ever since.
"Learning to navigate a healthcare system, and society for that matter, that has very specific notions of what a body should be and do, what a disability is and should look like, and what pain is and should look like can be really devastating, especially before you connect with a community of people who can share their experiences with these things," she said. "I was desperate for a framework that helped me make sense of the struggle to get doctors to take my pain seriously, for a way to understand the guilt that I felt for not getting better after the accident and the host of other social, cultural and economic positions that you suddenly find yourself in when you have a disability.
"When I found disability studies, it was like somebody handed me a ticket to a show I didn't even know I was desperate to get into. The field of disability studies, born out of the disability rights movement and disabled people's activism, understands disability not as a bodily problem to be fixed, but as an experience/relationship between people with a variety of impairments and the environment.
Through disability studies, Patsavas said she has learned extensively about the history of ableism.
"Connecting my experience to a broader movement, getting a sense of the work that needs to be done to continue to challenge attitudinal, environmental and policy-based barriers that disabled people face gave me both the humility and the conviction needed to connect my passions to bigger, community struggles," she said.
Patsavas said she wants to pursue a long-term career teaching, ideally at the college level.
"I also want to explore the complex ways that people live with and through chronic pain," she said. "We have very fixed understandings of what pain is and how to deal with, accommodate and talk about it. We assume that pain is this experience that is so exceptional, so devastatingwhich it is and it can bebut yet by some accounts nearly 20 percent of Americans live with chronic pain. How can that many people experience pain, yet we have such few supports in place and we struggle so much to talk with each other about pain? I just hope that my through my scholarship and through teaching, I can contribute to the efforts of people committed to change some of that."
Dating Katerina Kolarova for three and a half years
Is a Ph.D. student in disability studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and also is a teaching assistant at the University of Illinois at Chicago for the department of disability and human development
Painting, gardening and her two dogs: a chow-basenji mix named Scooby and a shepard-pit bull mix named Cyrano.
Ani DiFranco, Tegan and Sara
Favorite TV shows
"Anything Joss Whedon has ever made."
"I don't like white condiments: mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, horseradish. And really any creamy white cheeses [too; that's] pretty much a no-go territory for me. Also, fruit in my pastries [is] absolute blasphemy in my book."