3 Ways I Manage My Chronic Illness at Princeton

Unexplained chronic pain turned my life upside down in October 2023. I soon found myself staying overnight at McCosh Health Center, and asking some of my friends to help with basic tasks like doing laundry. 


It wasn't until winter break that I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia: a chronic illness characterized by "widespread pain throughout the body...[chronic] fatigue...and problems concentrating also known as fibro fog" (niams.nih.gov). 


Though I'm always in pain, I'd like to share ways that I've been able to manage it at Princeton. Let's get into it!


1. Requesting accommodations

For students who need academic, housing, dining, or testing accommodations, they must fill out the Office of Disability Services' online form. They also must provide medical documents explaining how their disability impairs their functioning, and how accommodations would improve their functioning. 


I found it vulnerable to disclose my chronic illness to ODS, but I remembered to not hold back in my application. I was as honest as possible, because I know myself better than anybody else.

I know, for instance, that going up and down stairs is difficult for me. So Forbes College was no longer accessible to me, because the Annex does not have elevators. Next year I will be living on the first floor of an upperclassman dorm building that is much closer to my classes. 

2. Communicating with professors. 

ODS requires students to submit Semester Request forms to notify professors about approved accommodations. 


While I'm not required to disclose my chronic illness, I find it helpful to give my professors more context about Fibromyalgia during office hours. This is especially the case considering that I have frequent flare ups. Flare ups occur when chronic illness symptoms worsen for a few days.


Again it takes courage to open up to your professors about chronic illness. It may be easier to hide behind a screen, typing about why you need to miss class or receive an extension on an assignment. However, I have found it very valuable to meet with my professors in person, so everybody is on the same page. 


3. Getting lots of rest

Fibromyalgia comes with chronic fatigue, as I mentioned before. No amount of sleep can remedy that symptom, but the paradox is that if I don't get enough sleep, I'll flare up incessantly. 


When creating my course schedules, I make sure to leave plenty of gaps in between my classes. This way, I can make time to not only complete homework, but also take naps during the day. And since I am an early bird, I make sure to go to bed consistently between 11:00 PM and 2:00 AM. 


On the other hand, rest doesn't always look like sleeping. Some days it looks like drawing and journaling. Other days it looks like doing my readings from bed. I listen to what my body wants to do, and go with the flow. After all, I can't pour from an empty cup.


Collage of nine selfies showing different emotions of chronic illness
The many faces of chronic illness.

Finding your Space at Princeton: The AccessAbility Center

One of my favorite things about Princeton is the opportunity to meet with students from diverse backgrounds and engage with different facets of your identity. Coming into Princeton, I knew I wanted to find a space where I felt comfortable engaging in my identity as an individual with a disability, which is how I found Princeton’s AccessAbility Center. Now working as one of the center’s fellows, I get to advocate and celebrate the disabled community at Princeton in a space where I feel at home.

Founded in 2017, the AccessAbility Center (AccessAbility Center | Office of Disability Services (princeton.edu)) is a physical space in the Frist Campus Center designed to raise awareness for students with disabilities. Unlike the Office of Disability Services (ODS) (Office of Disability Services (princeton.edu)) that focuses on the logistics of accommodations, the AccessAbility Center is a student-run space designed to build community around disability through study breaks, student spotlights, and education programs hosted by the fellows. The fellows are a group of approximately six undergraduate students selected based on their passion and ideas for disability advocacy on campus who determine what events the center holds. When we aren’t hosting events at the center, students can take advantage of the quiet study room, adjustable desks, and comfortable seating areas designed to accommodate a wide range of individuals.

Students sit a circle of chairs listening to a speaker at the AccessAbility Center
Student Spotlight event

When I was searching for schools, I knew I wanted a place where disability was not only accommodated but also celebrated as I navigated having a chronic illness in college. I am glad to say I have found that place through the AccessAbility Center. Through our student spotlights, we invite students who are connected to disability (whether it is through research, lived experience, or witnessed experience) an opportunity to share with other community members openly. Providing the opportunity for disability to become more visible on campus has been one of my greatest joys and was something I did not experience before coming to Princeton. I even met one of my closest friends while attending a student spotlight focused on concussions, allowing us to connect over our shared experience of brain injury.

Beyond our center-run events, we also collaborate with other peer groups on campus like the Peer Health Advisors and Residential College Advisors to discuss how we can adapt their programming to include all of the students at Princeton, regardless of ability. We also just rolled out our Allies for Access training program which has enabled members of the broader Princeton community the opportunity to hear directly from students about how they can best support campus members living with a disability. Advocating for the identity of disability to become more visible on campus is one of the reasons why I am so proud to work in the AccessAbility Center.

The five other fellows (Meet Our Fellows | Office of Disability Services (princeton.edu)) with whom I have the pleasure of working have made me feel at home at Princeton and supported me every step of the way. As I finish my second year as a fellow, I feel incredibly grateful to have found a community and place on campus where disability is celebrated, and I cannot wait to see how it continues to grow during the remainder of my time at Princeton and beyond.

Student Veterans on 'Why Princeton?'

Luke Hixson '25

Prior to Princeton, I served five years in the Navy as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman attached to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. I’m currently a Junior in the Department of Neuroscience, a researcher in the Peña Lab, and a member of the Glorious Tiger Inn. After graduating from Princeton, I plan to attend medical school.


Princeton University is more than just a “prestigious institution;" it's a place where diverse communities come together to foster growth, inclusion, and support – a place where veterans can find an understanding and appreciative environment to transition back into civilian life while pursuing their academic dreams. The warm embrace I received from the Emma Bloomberg Center, fellow student-veterans, and the extensive resources available here made my transition from the military to academia seamless. But it doesn't stop there. Princeton's broader community is equally exceptional, nurturing a culture of collaboration and intellectual curiosity. The friendships I've formed with students from all walks of life have enriched my educational experience beyond measure. So, Why Princeton? It's the unique combination of a strong student-veteran community and the vibrant, inclusive spirit of Princeton as a whole. It's a place where I can grow academically, personally, and socially.


Victor Reynoso '26

I am from the West City of Puerto, Mayaguez. I left Puerto Rico when I enlisted in the U.S. Marines at 17 years old. I received an early Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps so I could pursue my education at Princeton. I started here last year as a 22-year-old freshman, and I am a dog-dad of the two cutest dogs you will ever meet, and excited about the opportunities that Princeton offers me to explore my areas of interest before deciding on which major to pursue.


If I had to articulate what it is like to be a Princeton student, I would say that Princeton has the same mentality my drill instructors had; we train how we fight. In this regard, to Princeton, it is paramount that students receive a rigorous education, emulative of great real-world challenges. To better explain this, I can say that as a low-income student, I had never taken a computer science class before Princeton. However, three weeks after I started my first class at Princeton, we were asked to program a simulation of the solar system that took into consideration mass and gravitational forces. To be candid, this programming assignment had the most massive learning curve I’ve ever tackled. Nevertheless, it had to get done. So, I went to office hours, and I did not leave until it was finished – I refused to believe there was an “impossible” assignment. Personally, I think, that’s what Princeton is all about, constantly doing novel things that seemed impossible just three weeks ago. So, yes, Princeton academics can be grueling at moments, but they're also inspiring and stimulating. What's more, at Princeton, you are never alone, and someone is always willing to help. That's why I would not have it any other way.   


Minh Truong '27

During high school, at 17 years old I enlisted in the Army National Guard and have been with the state of Pennsylvania for four years. I am still drilling monthly with my state and have two years left with the Army. I was accepted into Princeton's Class of 2025 but deferred for two years for Army training and a deployment last year. I just came back to join the Class of 2027 as a first-year. I plan to major in Economics and minor in Visual Arts, maybe also Finance, and am considering law school after graduation.


Students at Princeton can choose to participate in clubs and student organizations that allow for professional and personal development outside of the classroom, which I have found to be very rewarding and also practical.

The University is very generous in its support of student co-curricular organizations; this allows for very well-organized clubs run by students and community members who are genuinely committed to and passionate about their activities.

Clubs can vary widely based on interest, with everything from pre-professional, to sports, to affinity, to hobby-based. I am involved with a business club and a finance club, both of which provide me with valuable professional development opportunities, such as regular conversations with industry leaders, working on an endowed project, trips to national business conferences, networking, etc. I am also involved in a badminton club, and a literary publishing club for which I am a book cover artist. These spaces allow me to explore personal interests outside of academics that engage my hobbies in structured and funded environments.

All the co-curricular programming available on campus is diverse yet accommodating and void of superficiality. Commitment-intensive clubs require applications and interviews that single out those who really want to commit themselves to the organizations, while other groups are more low-key and open to all. Being a service member has been a great asset in these spaces; the experiences, knowledge, and work ethic obtained in the military sets veterans far apart from others in their potential contributions to these communities. So far it has been very rewarding to commit myself to activities that allow growth beyond the classroom, and I highly encourage those considering Princeton to look at all these offered opportunities.


Kenneth Simmons '27

I was the product of a military family and my parents decided to settle down in Fayetteville, North Carolina. When I enlisted in the Army, I knew that I needed to mature and grow as a person. I had the privilege to work as a laboratory technician and medic in Special Operations and in clinical settings. The lessons I learned were invaluable to me taking the next step in my career. 

After separating from the Army after 14 years of service, I began my pursuit of higher education and enrolled in community college. This past summer I graduated from Fayetteville Technical Community College with my associates degree in science. I plan to major in philosophy here at Princeton, with the hopes of attending law school where I will begin a career in ethics for emerging technology. 

Support Resources

I chose Princeton for many reasons; the sense that I would be welcomed into the Princeton Community and that accommodations were made for non-traditional/veteran students were among those deciding factors. As a parent, dog parent, and 14-year Army Veteran, I knew I would be very different from my classmates. At Princeton, there are many resources to make your transition out of the military and into higher education seamless, unlike any other institution I applied to. You have the option to live on campus in the undergraduate residential colleges, or if you have a family and pets, you can opt to live in graduate housing or off campus. This flexibility addresses a significant component of any student’s success–ensuring that things are okay at home. My two dogs Cali and Cloud, enjoy going on walks and admiring campus, and it is normal to bump into classmates and professors and strike up a conversation. Princeton also has world-class physical and mental health services, ensuring my physical and mental health needs are addressed. Thank you, Princeton, for knocking down barriers to education and allowing me to share my talents with this community.

Editor's note: A few other resources include the transfer and veteran programming though the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity, the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, the Writing Center, professors' office hours, advising in the residential college offices, and the Center for Career Development.


Andres Solorzano '26

I am from Long Beach, California. Before attending Princeton, I enlisted into the United States Army in 2016 and served in various components of the Army until the beginning of this year. I was a M1 Armor Crewman in the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment out of Fort Stewart, Georgia. 

I am a first generation Guatemalan-American student. I am grateful to Princeton for giving me an opportunity unlike anything I could have ever dreamed of. I am looking forward to being challenged in the coming years, and I am ready to grow academically and personally alongside the amazing students here on campus. Upon graduating from Princeton, I plan on immediately pursuing an advanced degree. 

Financial Aid

Applying to Princeton can be very daunting. There is a lot of uncharted territory to navigate, particularly for student veterans. One of the biggest questions is always: “How will I be able to pay for this?” There’s no way I can afford it so why even bother applying, right? Wrong! Last year, Princeton enhanced its financial aid policy, guaranteeing independent students and families with incomes up to $100,000 a year will pay nothing.

Let’s not forget your earned educational benefits. Your GI Bill? Save that for graduate school! You do not have to utilize your benefits unless you decide that you want to use them. Many factors go into deciding where you will go to college, but don’t let money be a barrier--at Princeton, it isn’t anymore. Financial aid is one of the many ways we experience this university's recognition of the great value that veteran students bring to the campus population.

Self-Discovery and Queer Life at Princeton: A Personal Reflection

My name is Mirabella Smith, and I am a member of Princeton’s Class of 2024. I came to Princeton knowing that I was queer, but not yet knowing exactly what that meant to me. I thought that I did–identity, though, I came to learn, is not something which is static. Identity is a process of discovery and of becoming.

I entered this institution in Fall of 2020. Necessary regulations to control the spread of COVID-19 meant that all students attended classes over Zoom during the fall semester, and had the option to come to campus (still taking classes virtually) during the spring. For financial reasons, I chose to stay home the whole year. As you would probably expect, the experience was isolating. Transitioning to the rigor of a place like Princeton more or less alone (at least in my physical space) took a toll on me that I won’t soon forget. Still, I’ll always remember that fall semester fondly as the time I found my people, and along with them, my passion.

Perhaps the best decision I have made thus far in life was to take a freshman seminar entitled “The Bad Old Days? LGBTQ+ Literature Before Stonewall.” It was there that I met people who I now consider to be my family. Before the first day of classes, we decided to make a group chat, and within an hour, it was buzzing with activity. I think that we all felt nervous about coming to Princeton; nervous about being so alone, so isolated, as we launched ourselves into not just the unfamiliar world of college, but the unfamiliar world of being queer in college. Many of us were queer, after all, and took the class because we were interested in learning more about the history of our community. We connected fast. Those people and the group chat we shared were an anchor for me in my transition to Princeton’s world, made all the more complicated by the fact that I wasn’t actually at Princeton. 

That wasn’t the only class where I was exposed to new facets of my identity. Another class, “Crafting Freedom: Women and Liberation” quickly introduced me to Audre Lorde’s collection of essays Sister Outsider–it was one of my first college readings and remains my favorite book to this day. Audre Lorde was my first foray into the world of Black Feminist thought. I honestly don’t think that I knew what feminism (actually) is until I came to Princeton. It is inherently intersectional, centered around community, communication, and bridging the gaps that exist between us. It’s about acknowledging those gaps, and listening to each other in such a way that we connect not in spite of them, but through them. We are more powerful when we speak than when we are silent, and, as Lorde wrote, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt” (Lorde, Poetry is Not a Luxury).

In that class, we read Angela Davis, Cherie Moraga, and Gloria Anzaldúa. We read the works of abolitionists, transwomen and coalition builders, and I fell in love with the world of queer theory. In retrospect, it’s easy to say that with each course I took towards the Gender and Sexuality Studies certificate, I was developing as a student and a human. A major tipping point for me came when I read Judith Butler’s essay “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution,” which helped me come to the realization that I am nonbinary. Butler’s words clicked something together inside my head, and the realization came on quickly. That facet of my identity suddenly just made more sense. 

This is one of the reasons I am a firm believer in the inextricable connection between theory and praxis: they come hand in hand, and theory, when it is made accessible, has incredible power to promote understanding and create change. That is one of the major tenets that I live my life by today. Accessibility is understanding, and understanding can be revolutionary.

Princeton is a space that has its fair share of institutional issues, something which I am quick to speak to. Still, it’s here that I’ve found my queer family. You’ll find that queer people at Princeton find ways to make space for themselves, and it’s in those enclaves where I’ve found my place and have grown as a human being. I don’t know who I would be without those people, who make both this place and myself better every day.

Facing Loneliness and Finding Belonging While Forging a New Path, From a First-gen Transfer Student

As a first-generation college student, my acceptance to Princeton University came with a whirlwind of emotion. Despite being overjoyed with the news that Princeton was interested in what I had to offer, the reality of entering into an elite institution soon settled on me. Due to my lower socioeconomic status upbringing, fears crept into my thoughts about how I would relate to my peers as a matured, nontraditional student. A sense of loneliness peaked its ugly head as it seemed that no one would understand how I felt. The double-edged sword of my new privilege made it harder for me to connect with my family origins.

Upon entering Princeton’s halls, I was immediately welcomed by the Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP)*. I gained new knowledge, improved my analytical capabilities, and formed promising friendships with other FLI (First-gen and or Low Income) students through my participation in the summer FSI program. SIFP adequately prepared me for Princeton’s rigorous academic environment. 

It was initially uncomfortable for me to be a part of an elite institution because I did not have the guidance and cultural capital to handle such a complex environment. As a result of SIFP’s efforts, I have felt that I belong–something I had always hoped for before I set foot at Princeton University. The advocacy for FLI students on campus empowered me to express myself and have my voice heard. I received invaluable guidance and mentorship from this program at a crucial time in my life. 

Having received so much support from my community, I now mentor peers as a way of giving back. Additionally, I have dedicated my Junior Paper, part of Princeton’s rigorous research curriculum for undergraduates, to researching and discovering the impacts of educational policies on the sense of belonging within the FLI community and the effectiveness of programs such as SIFP.

*All Transfer Students, as well as FLI students and veterans, are invited to apply to participate in SIFP,

Woman stand in front of banner reading "FLI IS FLY," in front of stone building with two tiger sculptures

First-gen Student and Local Politician, a Princeton Transfer Story

I am a first generation college student that was raised by a single mother in a low income household, so I never imagined that transferring to Princeton from my community college could even be a remote possibility for me. I learned of my admission to Princeton on the same day that I was named as one of the recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, so my life changed in the span of just a few hours. I remember standing in front of the medallion on the walkway of the courtyard leading to Nassau Hall the next day, feeling a profound sense of gratitude and humility; and a renewed faith that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

I’ve long been fascinated by how America’s institutions and political processes can be vehicles for solving social problems and building a fairer and more just society, so I enrolled in a few political science classes at my local community college during the pandemic to learn more. When I decided to transfer to a four year university, Princeton was on my radar because of its politics department. With its interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum and its emphasis on service learning, I felt that continuing my education at Princeton would allow me to pursue my interest in political science and public policy and help me apply what I learn in the real world, including in my own community as a public servant.

While the academics here are intense and there can be initial challenges making the transition to Princeton, the transfer community here makes even the toughest days worth it. Every transfer student has something about them that sets them apart from the rest of the undergraduate population at Princeton. I’ve learned so much from my peers and made friends in our tight-knit transfer community that will last a lifetime. The highlight of my day is having a meal with friends or having long and deep discussions (and sometimes debates) about anything from philosophy, or current events, to the flavor of the cauliflower they’re serving in the dining hall.

During my first semester at Princeton, I was running for city council in my hometown, which is about twenty minutes away from Princeton. During the campaign, my friends from the transfer community helped me canvas door to door in the lead up to the election; and since being elected, they're still there for me when the going gets tough. Along with our beloved Dr. Keith Shaw and Dr. Jordan Reed (Director and Associate Director of Transfer, Veteran, and Non-traditional Student Programs, respectively) the transfer community here at Princeton is here for you when it counts. They enriched my life and made my transition to Princeton successful.

Being a transfer student at Princeton is a journey that can take you places you never thought were possible. Every time I walk the campus and gaze at its Gothic architecture, check out a book in Firestone Library, or sit in a lecture hall where Michelle Obama and Sonia Sotomayor once sat, I’m thankful that I applied to Princeton. Believe in yourself and how far you can go because there’s a place for you here too. 


seven people stand on suburban street corner, center person holds campaign sign



four people pose for a selfie on the field at Princeton Football game

Traversing the Orange Bubble

Navigating your way around campus can be intimidating during a visit or just after move-in, but after several weeks, you'll likely find yourself realizing that the campus is actually quite compact. Traversing the Orange Bubble for your various classes throughout the day is quite doable on foot or on bike, which is why very few students have cars on campus (that, combined with the lack of practically any place to park one). Additionally, Princeton's buildings are becoming increasingly accessible. For instance, Naomi Hess '22 has a wonderful blog on the recent renovations to Nassau Hall that allowed her to be the first person using a wheelchair to enter the building without assistance. In short, getting around campus without a car or shuttle is easy, and the impromptu conversations that occur while entering, leaving and traveling between campus buildings are an unsung but vital part of the Princeton experience. 

For example, after working on a paper or problem set for several hours, I might summarize verbally what I've been doing to a friend I pass on my way out of the E-Quad or library. The simple act of condensing the main points of my work can be very helpful in synthesizing and organizing the material in my mind. Other times, the walks between classes provide an opportunity to catch up with friends when we don't have the time to organize a formal meet-up or get-together. Even though we might not have the time for a concert or event together, we can always chat as we walk from class to class. I really appreciate the moments with friends as I get around campus, as they've been the start of both great ideas and friendships.

Campus is very self-contained, but there may be times when you need something from a destination farther away. For those moments, you can take the Tiger Transit shuttle bus. This bus is free and drives around campus daily, and on the weekends it follows the Weekend Shopper route. This route proceeds down Route 1 to stop at the various shopping centers that include a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Staples, Home Depot and other stores. I've taken the Weekend Shopper to buy groceries, and my friends have taken it to buy supplies for their art classes. 

Weekend shopper bus approaching in parking lot of shopping center

Weather permitting, it's also possible to increase your mobility on a bike. Many students have bikes on campus, because they make it possible to get from New South to the E-Quad, for instance, when you only have a 10-minute change-over between classes. There is also a biking route down Alexander Street and Canal Pointe Boulevard that you can take to reach the shopping centers previously mentioned. When it's nice outside, I like taking a bike ride along that route to get to the Whole Foods to buy groceries. Most students store their bikes outside on the numerous bike racks outside the dorms. I cover mine with a plastic tarp when it rains. It looks a little ridiculous, but it does help prevent rusting!


bicycle under gray plastic tarp

Getting around campus and town is one of the most enjoyable parts of my daily routine, and I never fail to appreciate both the buildings and the friends around me as I get from place to place. Furthermore, campus is becoming increasingly accessible to everyone, which you can find out more about from the AccessAbility Center. Additionally Parking and Transportation Services also provides information on accessible pathways and entrances on campus.  In summary, traversing the Orange Bubble is a simple everyday treat.

ASL and Deaf Studies at Princeton

Princeton has taken significant efforts to expand its American Sign Language (ASL) offerings in recent years. ASL was first offered for credit in 2018 through the Program in Linguistics. Beginning in spring 2021, ASL counts towards the fulfillment of the language requirement. I hope the expansion of the ASL program shows the importance of ASL and encourages more students to take the language.

I first learned ASL when I took LIN 205: A Survey of American Sign Language in the fall. This class is for students who do not know ASL and serves as an introduction to the language. It was really wonderful to learn ASL from faculty member Noah Buchholz, who is Deaf and a native speaker of ASL. Now, I can have basic conversations in ASL. Many students in the class had never been exposed to ASL before, but now we all can recognize introductory vocabulary and we understand more about grammar and syntax. I’m also pretty positive that LIN205 was one of the first classes for most students that directly discussed Deafness and disability, and I think students really benefited from learning about these topics.

Now, I am in LIN215: American Deaf Culture, which is being taught for the first time this semester. While Professor Buchholz teaches this class in ASL, students do not need to have any knowledge of the language. Instead, this class is about Deaf culture, as the name suggests, which encompasses history, civil rights, literature and more. It’s so exciting to have a class dedicated to Deaf studies in a way that contextualizes the Deaf experience. I’m looking forward to learning more about Deafness in the past and present.

For years, ASL has been one of the fastest-growing languages taught on college campus today. Additionally, people with disabilities are the largest minority group in the world, which makes it even more essential that Princeton students with and without disabilities learn more how disability impacts the world around them. In the future, I hope that Princeton offers even more classes about ASL, Deaf studies, and disability studies.

Accommodation and Advocation

Having been recently diagnosed with a disability, ulcerative colitis, one of the main fears I had living on campus was the accommodation system. I had only gone through the process during virtual learning, so witnessing how my illness would affect me on campus was a bit scary. I feared that I would not be getting the accommodations I needed. Considering the cyclical nature of my illness, I feared that the Office of Disability Services would not see my accommodations as necessary. Although I got most of my accommodations, my need for a private bathroom was not met, yet I’ve managed without it for now. 

The fact that I didn’t have certain accommodations that I felt were necessary made me worried about how accessible the campus would be. But, I find that generally, the staff and members of the University are quite understanding of disabilities. For one, my professors have been incredibly helpful in honoring my accommodations. Additionally, the Office of Disability Services is generally very responsive and helpful to meet the varying needs of students with accommodations. Despite the fact that I moved hundreds of miles away from home, with access to my needs more limited, I still flourish. Really, accommodations is about finding out how to work within a system, even if the resources you need are all not there. 


Izabela Konopka sitting on a tree trunk

One of the biggest pieces of advice I would give to incoming first-year students is to make sure your accommodations prepare for the worst case scenario, rather than your present condition. College is a large transition. You can not predict its effect on your disability. Additionally, as long as you have the proper documentation and good reasoning, you should be able to get those accommodations. Another piece of advice I would give is to not be afraid to advocate for yourself. There are many staff who help you advocate for what you need to succeed at Princeton, like our Residential College Staff. Reaching out to them can be instrumental in ensuring you get the resources you need, and knowing that persistence is key. 

Princeton has helped me advocate for myself more, intertwining with my interest in politics. Princeton gives a plethora of resources for those with varying disabilities — you just need to take advantage of those resources.

Nassau Hall and Advocating for Accessibility

I’ve written previously about my experience as a student with a disability at Princeton. While it has its challenges, overall I’ve felt very welcome on this campus. I’m happy to report back, almost two years later, about the ways in which Princeton has become more accessible throughout my time here. It’s taken a good amount of student advocacy to reach this point, but with every student that raises a concern or a hope for the future, the likelihood of positive change increases.

This past August, I became the first person in a wheelchair to enter Nassau Hall without assistance, as documented by The Daily Princetonian. A multi-year project to create a new entrance and install an elevator inside the historic center of campus administration was finally completed. It was incredible to see the inside of the building, including the Faculty Room, where the Board of Trustees meets, and the Memorial Room, which features the names of all alumni who died in every war dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Fun fact: Nassau Hall briefly served as the capital of the United States in 1783 when the Continental Congress met inside of it! I’m so glad that this important building is accessible at last, and it shows that Princeton is listening to students with access needs like myself.

I’m hopeful that the Nassau Hall renovation is only the start of changes to campus infrastructure. There are many groups on campus focused on improving access and inclusion. For example, I’m a member of the Disability Collective, a club for students with disabilities, it’s been incredible to bond with other students who have similar experiences in a world built for people without disabilities. I also co-chair the Disability Task Force within the Undergraduate Student Government. We’ve been working on several initiatives, such as adding more information about disability services into first-year orientation and collaborating with the eating clubs on accessibility training. In addition, I’m a student fellow for the AccessAbility Center, where I plan programs like an annual celebration of International Day of People with Disabilities and stress relief around midterms and finals with therapy dogs and massages. In my last year on campus, I plan on continuing all of these efforts to improve accessibility, so that the next generation of students with disabilities can feel even more included and supported.