portrait of RichardA decade ago, Richard graduated from the Henry Viscardi School with a mission. He wanted to find a way to advocate for others with disabilities as they navigate higher education, employment, and community living This compelled him to pursue his PhD in clinical psychology at Hofstra University with a determination to provide guidance and resources to young people with disabilities and their families.  

Richard received nuanced support during his student days at Viscardi. He describes the academic environment as one that was deeply attuned to his needs, which readied him for his transition to an independent adult life.  

“From the Independent Living House to its academics, and the ways you learn to speak up and receive accommodations, Viscardi did it all when it came to preparing me for college,” Richard said, also pointing out that his family was empowered by the network of teachers and parent during his childhood.  

“It goes beyond the child at Viscardi. The parents also benefit.” 

As he grew up, Richard saw leadership potential within himself that mirrored a revered role model—The Viscardi Center’s founder, Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. Like Dr. Viscardi, he wished to understand and positively impact how the world views disability. That focus will carry him through as he completes his doctoral program and becomes a licensed psychologist.  

“I love the idea of helping people discover themselves,” he said. “My dream job is to be in a position in which I can help people with disabilities understand that everything is possible – not just that anything is possible, but that everything is possible. What I am most looking forward to in the future is helping parents understand that once their child is diagnosed with a disability, it’s not a death sentence.” 

Richard is now in the third year of his PhD program on a full academic scholarship. The program, with a range of clinical internships and research projects in psychotherapy, will take five years of study to complete. He continues to stay active in the Viscardi Alumni Association.  

“One of my major goals is to come back to Viscardi and help shape the future of what those kids will experience as well as what accessibility looks like, what kindness looks like, what it is to love and accept.”  

Watch Richard and others discuss how Viscardi empowered them to launch a business, advocate for change, build a meaningful career, pursue a PhD degree, and more.