Olivia Brichter in the lab
By Roanoke College News

Advocate for change

Olivia Brichter’s heard it all before. That her epilepsy means she has to scale back her ambitions. That her ADHD means she won’t thrive in the rigorous world of research. That her disabilities will define and control her.

She’s heard it — and she knows nothing could be further from the truth.

“It’s hurtful and disturbing when people try to tell you that,” she says. “But it’s also what fueled my fire. I have this determination in me to prove to the world that I can do the things that other, neurotypical people can.”

Brichter, a psychology major and a research fellow studying epilepsy genes, said the disability studies concentration has strengthened her resolve to be an advocate for change.

“We need people out there creating more opportunities and avenues for people with disabilities,” she says. “That can be through mentoring or creating programs to help them reach their goals. There are so many areas where it could be applied to better our world and help ensure that no one falls behind.”

The many possibilities are underscored by the structure of the disability studies concentration itself, she added. The interdisciplinary program draws on multiple fields and schools within the college to offer students a well-rounded understanding of the nuanced issue.

“I appreciate interdisciplinary thinking,” Brichter says. “It has no limits, and I don’t like limits.”