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When Maria Vazquez first came to The Advocacy Center, now Starbridge, she needed help for her son, Jose. As she recalls, "He wasn’t learning. I needed help for him due to his medical needs, and he needed supports for learning." Jose has Type 1 Diabetes, seizure disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Maria began working with Maritza Cubi, Bilingual Family Education Specialist. They discussed all of Maria’s options, starting with asking staff at Jose’s school to communicate with Maria in her native language.

Maria V and childrenMaria has dreams for her children’s futures. Of her daughter Nismary, now 16, and her son Jose, now 11, she says, "I want to see them graduate and obtain jobs. I want them to be happy and do what makes them happy."

Nismary loves helping others and wants to work in a field that would allow her to work with babies. Jose loves music and anything that is electronic.
As a result of Maria’s advocacy efforts, Jose now has the school supports he needs, including a 1-on-1 aide.

Throughout this process, Maritza has watched Maria grow into a stronger and more confident advocate. "My role is to support Maria so she is able to address each of her concerns and know what her options are. It is not my role to decide for her. It is the family’s choice."

Maria says she has learned much. "I learned to be assertive and to advocate. I have acquired many abilities that help me seek and obtain the supports my kids need."


This article originally appeared in Champions, Issue 1, in Summer of 2016.