Meet Caleigh

We are so excited to have Caleigh join the INCLUDAS team as the General Support Intern!

What’s your favorite thing about yourself?

Something I really like about myself is that I try to involve myself in such a wide range of things. I try to pick up a lot of different skills. I like to do a lot of reading and crafting and everything, but then this summer, I also built a table. I really want to achieve that jack-of-all-trades [thing].

What’s the most significant thing that’s influenced you as a person?

How my family was growing up, which does kind of go hand in hand with trying different things. My parents really pushed us to be a part of a lot of different activities and to try everything out that we possibly could, not just because it’s good to become a well-rounded person, but also because there’s so much to experience that it’s nice to dip your feet into everything and then find out what you’re really passionate about.

What makes you proud of yourself, and what are your aspirations?

Probably just how much I’ve fought for the things I said that I was going to do when I was a little kid. I said, “I’m going to be a journalist,” and now that’s what I’m studying in college. And I was like, “I really want to go out of state,” and so I did that. The fact that I am where I am at right now is because that’s what I said when I was younger makes me feel like this is what I want to do and I’m on the right track. I’m really proud that I actually stuck with that dream and goal that I had. 

Long-term, I hope to become an international conflict photographer and go into these areas that have a lot of tension in them and be able to visually represent that: not to exploit what’s happening, but to bring awareness to what’s happening. But as a more general goal, it is just what I’m doing right now where I’m able to use all these skills that I’ve been building up visually and find a way to put them behind a cause that’s happening and get that to be something that people are aware of.

Why are you interested in working in publishing?

I worked at Barnes and Noble for a really long time, and I found that job partially because I just loved reading so much, but also because I was like, “Okay, how can I be even more involved with books?” And now with publishing, I get to go to the next step into that book world, that’s not just being the reader, but seeing how everything gets made, how everything gets published, the decisions made with that. With INCLUDAS specifically, I get to combine my passion for advocacy and for books.

Why is disability diversity in stories important to you?

I think that at the end of the day, a disability shouldn’t define someone, and it shouldn’t be the thing that decides whether you can be part of an activity or not, whether you can be part of a group or not. Everyone deserves to have a spot where they can fit in without judgment or stereotypes, and creating more inclusive environments is super important to showcasing that at the end of the day, a human being deserves that equal treatment and respect. We can look past the surface base of what we assume about someone just because they have a disability.

I think intersectionality is something that’s really important to try and target right now because you have a world that’s evolving so much in terms of how people identify groups that they are part of. If you have a character who’s a person of color and who’s disabled, so many people can now see themselves in that character no matter what. People are so much more complex than that one identity that you want to showcase.

What’s your role at INCLUDAS, and what’s been the most fulfilling part about being on the INCLUDAS team?

I am part of the general support staff right now, just helping out wherever I can. I am going to help a lot with the graphics and video side of things. What I’m most looking forward to is getting to learn more about the publishing world but also getting to combine that advocacy and the skills that I have. I really enjoy being a part of everything.

Any advice for those wanting to work in the publishing industry?

You don’t have to be the most skilled person at what you’re doing, it’s just about putting yourself out there. If you go out and you apply to things, if you go out and you talk to people, someone is going to give you that chance. Someone is going to give you that opportunity. And especially with things like publishing, just having experience where you can fine tune all these really good skills before being a part of an industry is going to make a really big difference.

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