At first glance, Amy Maiorano is a typical twenty-one-year-old college student. She attends classes at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, lives in an off-campus apartment with fellow students, and loves to socialize with friends.
But when you take a closer look, there is something beautifully-atypical about this young woman. Amy lives with a genetic disorder called Deletion 22q that is caused when a piece of someone’s 22nd chromosome is missing. Deletion 22q is associated with chronic physical problems such as growth deficiencies, vision issues, hearing loss, heart defects, psychiatric disorders, and seizures, among other ailments. But for Amy and 90% of those living with Deletion 22q, the most potent obstacle is intellectual disabilities. Amy is still struggling to learn basic skills such as operating a microwave, counting change, and taking a city bus. But when you give Amy a stage and a spotlight, the limitations are quickly forgotten.
Amy dreams of someday dancing alongside Ellen DeGeneres for a national TV audience, and as an homage to one of her idols, Taylor Swift, Amy has reinvented the hit song, “22” in her own image. Click on the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtsPtu-AzJ8 to view Amy’s debut music video that is achieving viral status with thousands of views. Along with the vocal talents of her sister, Nicole, and the assistance of a few close friends, Amy has created something magical to inspire people of all abilities!
Amy’s music video, 22Q, lauds the transformative powers of education, overcoming bullying, and advocating for oneself. She also depicts her perpetual battle to overcome social anxiety that can make it unbearable to accept an invitation to hang out with friends. Plenty of Amy’s successes may be attributed to her own tenacity and the support of an amazing family. Amy also benefits from the supports offered by the innovative College Experience Program (www.thecollegeexperience.org), a joint venture between The College of Saint Rose and the human service company, Living Resources, Inc. (www.livingresources.org). The two-year program works with students contending with a variety of disabilities such as autism, epilepsy, and Down Syndrome that usually involve intellectual challenges and might prevent them from reaching their potential in a mainstream college setting. As a freshman in the C.E.P, Amy currently focuses on cooking and budgeting skills but is also honing her talents to become a public orator and creative writer.
Amy was featured in a 2013 CNN interview, http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1109962 and currently has a webpage, www.speakingamy.com, where she blogs regularly about her challenges and adventures. While Amy hopes to meet Ellen DeGeneres and Taylor Swift someday, her true lifelong mission is to teach others that a disability does not have to hold you back from becoming the person you want to be.