Nicole Cunha Works to Shed Light on Disability

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Cunha, NicoleNicole Cunha, a public services assistant in the Wheelock College Earl Center for Learning and Innovation, is using their love of young adult literature, the influence of technology, and disability activism to expose society to the simple fact that you don’t have to be afraid of something you don’t understand. Through their work in the Earl Center and as a graduate student at Simmons College in the Library and Information Science and Children’s Literature programs, Nicole is learning the skills necessary to facilitate this goal.

Nicole’s journey has presented challenges. Starting library school intent on becoming a young adult librarian, Nicole pursued internships but realized that the high-demand population of teenagers all day every day in a library center was a bit chaotic for them as a librarian. It was at that point that Nicole discovered the varied pace of an academic library at the Earl Center, which merges the programs of a teen library resource center with the academic research of a college library. “We’re essentially young adult librarians in an academic setting,” says Nicole.

Nicole has the opportunity to work closely with Mary Ann “Mare” Parker O’Toole, the assistant director of the Earl Center, to incorporate their interest in disability-related issues into a blog and an Earl Guide on the Elderly and Disabled Services Industry.

Ultimately, Nicole is interested in using young adult literature to facilitate the discussion of disability-related issues. Although many marginalized groups’ voices are not heard or are heard on a small scale, Nicole pinpoints a librarian’s responsibility by saying: “Librarians are charged with taking care of a person’s information need, as well as caring for millions of stories regardless of fact or fiction. How can we take care of the person, and make sure that each population’s needs are being met? How can we help their stories to be heard?”

Eventually Nicole would like to lead a series of workshops with all of the skills they’ve learned, merging their professional interests and personal passions into educational exposure opportunities by telling their story and sharing the stories of others.