Joanna joined the INCLUDAS team in September 2021 and is the Writing and Editing Intern. We are so excited to have her with us!
Tell us about yourself.
In having a very apparent physical disability, it is often easy to feel like the cards are stacked against me on a daily basis. But it is one of the things that I pride myself on most that I have never let the adversity I’ve experienced deter me from pursuing my dreams. The most significant things that’s influenced me as a person are, as cheesy as it sounds, my fondest childhood memories that are centered around reading books—specifically, the Harry Potter and Nancy Drew series. Those series allowed me to fall in love with literature and the innate escapism that it offers.
What makes you proud of yourself, and what are your aspirations?
The column that I write for my local newspaper, where I write about different aspects of disability advocacy. I think one of the biggest societal injustices that we currently experience as a population is how stigmatized the whole disability narrative is, when a quarter of the population lives with some sort of a disability—whether it be physical, invisible, or mental. When I was fortunate enough to begin writing my column while I was in college a year and a half ago, I knew I wanted to focus my column on destigmatizing it by emphasizing my own humanness behind my diagnosis—which was frightening to put myself out there like that, but also extremely liberating—as well as highlighting those of others.
In regards to my future goals, I hope to be the editor of a publishing company one day.
Why are you interested in working in publishing?
I have dreamed about going into the publishing industry ever since I fell in love with books because I cannot imagine a more rewarding career than to be a part of the process that provides a source of comfort and the escape for others when they need it, like books have always done for me.
Why is disability diversity in stories important to you?
Being someone with a very apparent physical disability is a topic that I am extremely passionate about, especially in the workplace, because I want to be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else, regardless of my physical limitations.
I would love to see more realistic disabled characters—specifically ones that have mental health issues. I don’t think people realize how inextricably linked mental and physical health are, and the perception is that disabled people don’t experience that and that we’re always happy and upbeat, which is a completely unrealistic expectation to place upon anyone.
What’s the most fulfilling part about being on the INCLUDAS team?
My two greatest passions are editing and disability advocacy. Since I graduated in Spring 2021, I have been trying to incorporate those passions into a career path without sacrificing one for the other. Therefore, when I stumbled onto INCLUDAS, it was literally a dream come true because I would have the opportunity to explore both of those paths. The hands-on experience I am getting of the editing process to bring a manuscript to its final stages is truly everything I could have hoped for with my first formal introduction into the industry.
Any advice for those wanting to work in the publishing industry?
I don’t really feel qualified to give any advice because this is actually my first internship with a publishing company, even though I’ve applied to many. I would say my main piece of advice would be for those trying to break into this industry, or any for that matter, is to never give up on your dreams because the right opportunity will come along.