Whether she is inspiring others or soaking up inspiration from her mentors and friends, Edwards has demonstrated that people with disabilities can thrive and positively impact their communities.
Born with cerebral palsy, Edwards has used a motorized chair for mobility since she was four years old.
“Regardless of your situation, you can use your life to inspire people,” Edwards said. “Challenges don’t have to stop you from making meaningful contributions to the world.”
As a determined young student, Edwards developed a passion for writing, which sparked dreams of attending college away from her home in Marshalltown, Iowa.
“With support and encouragement from friends and family, I was able to earn my degree from Iowa State while living on campus,” she said.
While attending ISU, Edwards served as president of the ISU Alliance for Disability Awareness. She also managed numerous events for ISU Disability Awareness Week.
Edwards describes the many friendships she forged while at Iowa State as key to her success in college and beyond.
“Inspiration goes both ways,” she said. “People have told me that I have inspired them. This makes me happy because I gained so much from my fellow ISU students. Everyone was so helpful and kind.”
Beyond her ISU achievements, Edwards was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Iowa in 2011. Dedicated to honoring Iowa women who use wheelchairs for mobility, the pageant helped Edwards to advance her platform: promoting positive perceptions of the disabled.
“People with disabilities are more than their disabilities. They also have abilities,” said Edwards. “We’re doing amazing things.”
Edwards has volunteered at the Central Iowa Art Association, the Marshalltown library, and the Iowa Veterans Home. Her involvement with Ms. Wheelchair Iowa has continued with writing and developing content for the pageant’s website. She hopes to pursue additional freelance writing opportunities.
“My primary goal is to be an example for disabled people by inspiring others to find their passions and to reach their goals,” Edwards said.