AnnaRose Rubright is an amazing young woman.
An international advocate for people with disabilities, the 24-year-old from Medford, New Jersey has worked with famous actresses and spoken at the United Nations. She has lobbied lawmakers in Washington, D.C. for disability rights and created videos for the National Down Syndrome Society, Forbes reports.
All of these are amazing accomplishments for any young woman, but especially so for Rubright who has Down syndrome.
On May 8, she achieved another milestone: She became the first person with Down syndrome to graduate from Rowan University in New Jersey, the NBC affiliate LEX 18 reports.
Rubright graduated with a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film communications, according to the report.
“It was very emotional for me and a bit overwhelming,” she told Forbes. “Most of my family members cried.”
Her mother, Lin Rubright, said her daughter was determined to achieve a four-year degree.
“There were times when I watched her frustration, I watched her struggle, and I said to her ‘you have an associates degree, you can be done if you want, you’ve already done so much,” Lin Rubright said. “But she just wouldn’t quit.”
A university spokesperson said the school holds students with disabilities to the same academic standards as all other students, and nothing was “watered down.”
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And for AnnaRose, that meant many extra hours studying.
“During the school term, there is not a lot of time for free activity,” her mother said. “She is sitting at that kitchen table, working and plugging away. Because what takes you or me 20 minutes to read, could take AnnaRose anywhere from an hour to three hours depending on the context and the vocabulary.”
While overcoming these academic challenges, AnnaRose also found time for extracurricular activities, including induction into the Delta Alpha Pi national honor society, a speech to a United Nations panel, lobbying in Washington and work with the National Down Syndrome Society, according to Forbes.
She also worked with actress Olivia Wilde on a special video campaign for World Down Syndrome Day in 2016, the report states.
AnnaRose said she plans to start her own production company to highlight the value of people with disabilities and their struggles. She also hopes to find a job working in radio.