Successful Henry Viscardi School alumna finds her way back to The Viscardi Center.
A Bronx native, Christina is a Henry Viscardi School alumna whose professional journey led her back to work at The Viscardi Center as an Employer Service Specialist for its Employer TA Center funded by the Department of Labor’s Office for Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).
Born with Spina Bifida, Christina began attending the Henry Viscardi School (HVS) at The Viscardi Center after years of home instruction due to her local school’s inability to accommodate her needs. Once her parents learned that HVS offered an accredited education, supportive environment, and extracurricular activities for children with physical disabilities, they began advocating for Christina to attend. She entered the school in eighth grade, and quickly became involved in what HVS had to offer. Christina fondly remembers going to Friday Night Recreation with her classmates and expresses the impact being a Viscardi student had on her academically and socially, “HVS gave me the support and community I needed to grow and connect with many people with and without disabilities and to have a social life.”
After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with a Minor in Education and a Concentration in Social Work from Manhattan College, and a Masters in Early Childhood Education from New York University, Christina began a career in early childhood education. Although she enjoyed teaching, Christina found a more fitting calling in advocacy and began working on behalf of people with disabilities at the Westchester Independent Living Center. During her seven years there, Christina held many positions including Employment Specialist, Educational Advocate, Latino Mental Health Advocate, and Minority Services Specialist. “It was amazing to fight for disability rights and to make sure no child with a disability grows up without understanding their rights, like I did,” shares Christina.
Now, working at The Viscardi Center not only “feels like coming home,” but has given Christina an opportunity to use her skills and experience to make a difference for people with disabilities on a larger scale. She is most excited at the prospect of being directly involved with creating positive and lasting change for people with disabilities for years to come.
When taking a break from helping others, Christina loves coming home to her chatty African Grey Parrot, named Felipe, and spending time with her husband Brett, a fellow HVS alum. She also enjoys listening to all types of music and watching old movies.