Princess Briggs

Degree: Ed.D. in Exceptional Student Education

College/School: School of Education and Human Development ; College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Princess Briggs knows the challenges faced by people with disabilities as well as their caregivers all too well. Daily, she saw the herculean effort her mother put forth to care for her two brothers and the struggles she endured to access services that could offer them support. Princess is determined to change things for the better.

Enrolling in the Exceptional Student Education doctoral program, Princess studied the hurdles faced by other African-American families in raising sons and daughters with disabilities. In her research, she found a reflection of the same challenges faced by her mother – overwhelmed teachers and a community unfamiliar with how best to assist people with disabilities.

The sudden and unexpected passing of her younger brother almost derailed her work, but Princess persevered. She completed an internship with the Florida Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services. Seeing the continued need for advocacy back home in Miami, she found a renewed focus.

Training teachers and parents to advocate for people with disabilities might just be the key to turning things around, Princess argues. If parents and teachers feel comfortable in offering support for children with disabilities, it could kick off a virtuous cycle where people would feel empowered to advocate for people with disabilities not just in their homes or classrooms but out in the community.

After graduation, Princess plans to become a professor to help turn the next generation of educators into passionate advocates for people with disabilities, just like her mentors, professors Elizabeth Cramer and Joan Wynne.

By Chrystian Tejedor